This is going to sound irritable, but, hell, its happening right now. We lose a great opportunity. Earlier we said that our creativity “a step ahead” compared to other agencies. At this time, other agencies have promised the client that can give a lot of leads through search engine optimization and programmatic. The client believed them.
This is another proof of the fact that many marketers dont know the difference between marketing strategy, channels and content. Of course, SEO and programmatic will find your consumers online. But there is no guarantee that they really will buy anything. Without creative content of the ad seems unconvincing and irrelevant, and sometimes it might even not notice.
People are tolerant of offline advertising, but online they just hate it and block at every opportunity. Creativity is forced out from consciousness of customers, and at the same time its value is reduced within agencies. In 2016, the annual collection of the best advertising works D&AD annual — the Bible for young creatives — turned into D&AD manual, guide for beginners. For the first time since the launch edition in 1962, there were exercises that teach finding ideas.
Its not bad. When we came into the industry with their eyes wide open in 1980, we had a thirst for knowledge and our “heroes” who we learned, was David Abbott, Dave Trott, John Hegarty, John Webster. First and foremost, their work is engaged with us. Well written for a magazine article about supermarkets Sainsburys, funny TVC for Levis jeans and beer John Smiths, witty posters for the networks London Weekend.
Ask today, the 23-year-old creative who John Webster — you will see an indifferent glance. They dont have heroes in business, and many of them proudly told me. It is important to only neatly trimmed beard. When did the rot.
When and why creative minds started to think that they cant learn anything from the previous generation. When they ceased to read books about great is the Volkswagen. When they stopped reading. Or to pay attention to pronunciation and punctuation. When they started to look at me skeptically when I tell you that the best book on creativity was written in 1939 (“the Technique of producing ideas” by James Webb young).
Why do they not have read?. I think creative have lost their way in the years of the digital boom. Thanks to online programs, virtually anyone can create your own layout. Our clients decided that the art Director no longer possesses the precious ability. If their 12 year old son can print photos in the print shop in 10 minutes, so can any.
So there was a whole generation of “true designers”. We started to submit ideas on a Mac instead of a magic whiteboards. System creative team discredited. Walk into any creative Department.
You will not see there teams is this before you will sit, each at his computer. Even if it happens that employees work together, they literally do not see each other. Huge Mac block the whole view. How they exchange ideas about how to comply with the terms of the brief.
Without dialogue face-to-face creativity in digital comes down to font selection and editing of images in Photoshop to the initial discussion. The modern habit is to make beautiful, not to seek the truth in constant dispute. Texts are also affected. When I started writing, it was a way to test thinking.
Had to describe deep ideas in simple language and check if the text is strong. Now people who never heard of David Abbott, call themselves “specialists in web copywriting”. Like to write texts for print and for the web requires different skills. Also we have a new breed of creatives who call themselves “content creators”.
They have a business card that says “global head of content”. But none of them can explain what “content”. Guys, the “content” is not a thing, it is something that can make public any media from books to film. Why give it a new name is empty.
Another reason that shows the lack of standards to creativity — a good old ageism (age discrimination — ed. Ed.). Young generation racing ahead. They want to achieve positions and salaries enjoyed by their superiors. Their discontent and the fact that they grew up in the digital age, convinces the user that they represent “the future”.
Creative Director over 50 years of age allegedly killed the favor of the new generation that can “go digital”. Ask any managing Director, which means this skill. Will tell you that they have children who can earn a gaudy banners as fast as managers work with clients to recruit ASAP (“as soon as possible” — approx. Ed.), setting a deadline.
In the result the Agency lost creative mentors — people who have made this Agency great. John Hegarty supported the on-going debate on ageism in advertising. “We no longer understand how to move forward in our industry”. I dont think my words are just a fly in the ointment. I was politely asked to leave the Agency The Leith “for financial reasons”, when I turned 57 years old.
It happened two months after I was given a five star rating and a bonus to the salary. I did the best work of his career and received awards. I once overheard a conversation between two of my former bosses, they called employees over 50 “a bunch of former humans”. If in 50 years we suddenly cease to understand how to handle the brief or commercials. They couldnt be more wrong.
The real test for the young generation is looking at the quality of work. On presentation of the young, it must be higher than the previous generation. Unfortunately, it is not. The last time I remember a Scottish advertising Agency, which would surprise the jury of D&AD (with the exception of the Edinburgh environmental design shop StudioLR).
Instead, our agencies are satisfied with little and celebrate their victory at the regional festivals, while the real competition and large clients located in London. I find myself increasingly called to hold a master class on “How to find an idea”. Funny thing is, that doing public relations firms, not advertising, in which I worked. They are tired of playing second fiddle in advertising.
They see the opportunity to become “custodians of the big idea”, and not to act on the margins. The PR experts in the dissemination of information. Some of the Scottish agencies consider PR as organizations that “deep into digital”. If the Agency has ambitions to grow, its time to stop comparing yourself with regional colleagues.
Instead, it is better to take for example London and the rest of the world. You need to stop bragging about local awards — the goal is more important. If you forgot that digital is an information channel and not a creative discipline, you should take a look at D&AD manual 2016. The book presents the winners for the analog and not just digital platforms. There are magazines, the ink of which is made of HIV-positive blood.
Bookstore that sells only one edition. Supermarkets that sell ugly fruit. Spoon, designed for people with shaky hands. A doll that blushes in the sun and reminds you that you need to use the cream. A drink made from sea water, so you can feel like a floater.
Washing instructions sewn into things that remind men that they too can erase. Cream for wrinkles. “Wrinkles” is a bad word in advertising agencies. But we, the “old former people”, live with them. And when in 2016 Gerry Farrell Ink has won the Grand Prix at the Drum Awards, a few people told me.
“Still in business, Yes?”. You know what. I never left.