One thing I hear more and more of these days is how the development of creative is being diluted by outside partners.
And – worst of all – crowdsourcing.
To be honest, I’m in agreement with a lot of the creative community on this.
There are three things that have happened over the past few years that I believe have had a disastrous effect on the quality of communication:
1. Many clients are only staying in their job for 2-3 years so there is no desire to do something that builds over time, they are just focused on not doing anything that rocks the boat so they can all but guarantee their next move.
2. We have become obsessed with the short-term results, which is ultimately stopping – or at least hindering – the ability to develop and build something that offers bigger opportunities for the brand and the business down the line.
3. We all think we are creative.
OK, so point 1 is hardly new and – depending on the industry – either is point 2, but the whole ‘we are all creative’ is definitely a newer situation over the past few years.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not saying only those with ‘creative’ on their business card can lay claim to being creative, but in terms of the development of communication, they have a skill and a craft that very few have and even they have – in the main – had to go and study how to do it for many years.
Of course, it can be argued that there are a bunch of creatives out there who are their own worst enemy by focusing purely on what they want to do rather than what the challenge they’ve asked to solve requires [in other words, they think they are in the art business, rather than the commercial art business] … but that aside, when you look at the quality and craft of the work that is put out into the public domain each and every day, it’s not hard to spot the huge [negative] influence of people who – if truth be told – should have kept their noses out of things and let the professionals get on with it.
Or as George used to say:
“It’s like going to the DR, telling him what’s wrong with you and what he needs to prescribe to make you better”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying creative development should be an impenetrable process, but when outsiders get dictatorial and prescriptive, all they’re actually doing is undermining the potential of what can be created because while I know they are doing it for the right reasons, they are operating with blinkers on whereas the creative department have the ability to see and communicate things differently.
Not wrong. Just differently.
Anyway, the reason I say this is because I recently read an interview with the screenwriter, Terry Hayes.
He used to be a journalist but went on to write the screenplay for 2 of the Mad Max movies.
In the interview, he was asked this:
Do you prefer writing books, because when you do that, you get to be screenwriter, producer, director and studio exec?
What I loved was his answer … an answer that highlights that as bad as adland is for outside influence, the movie business – which, let’s not forget, is an industry so many creatives aspire to being a part of – is incredibly similar.
“With so many egos and conflicting ideas, scriptwriting is no longer about creativity, it’s about crowd control”.
What a brilliant, insightful and tragic comment.
Of course it isn’t always that way, but it seems to be becoming the rule rather than the exception.
But before you think this post is anti-outside influence … there is one thing I would add.
If you want total creative control, then you have to take on some of the economic risk.
You can’t have one without the other – that’s not how it works and I don’t include ‘the risk of losing the client if things go wrong’ as part of that – which is why I still believe one of the best thing anyone can do is start their own company because whether it wins or fails, the lessons you learn help you understand the issues and complexities your clients are going through which not only allows you to empathise with their position and point of view, but helps you influence which decisions they make.
It’s all too easy to say “they’re wrong” just like it’s too all easy to say “I’m right” … which is why I still believe the best way to let creativity truly win is to be given a clear and concise challenge by the client [as opposed to an executional delivery] and put your money where your mouth is, not just your ego.
At the end of the day, power comes from success and that needs, as Harrison Ford said, an understanding of the ‘value of value‘.
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