Creative secrets in advertising

Many of the fundamental issues, concerns and challenges that face advertising creative people are common throughout the European region.

That was the clear message to emerge from a gathering of Grey’s European creative directors at a two-day seminar held in Vienna last week.

Of all the issues raised, the one that was viewed as most challenging was that of how to develop and use creativity more effectively to engage and influence increasingly advertising-literate consumers.

Addressing this key question, independent creative consultant Ralf Langwost revealed some of the secrets of the world’s most successful creative directors, 43 of whom he painstakingly tracked down and interviewed be-tween February and July last year. How is top creative performance achieved, he asked them, and can it be learned?

Having an-alysed the re-sponses to these and other questions, Langwost revealed a num-ber of valuable insights. He found that the most successful creative people are the toughest judges of their own work. They operate a constant cycle of finding and evaluating ideas until they finally un-cover the great ones. In the words of Rich Silverstein: “If it’s fine, it doesn’t happen. If it’s great, it does.”

Quoting Dan Wieden: “Personally, I respond more to things that challenge where I am and what my perceptions are.” He went on to highlight the importance of risk-taking to all top creative people. “You need risk,” he concluded. “If you don’t feel unsafe you probably have nothing new.”

Another insight into the practice of top creatives was their insistence that slickness of presentation to clients should not take precedence over ideas. “None of the top creative people I spoke to present complete layouts to their clients,” he said.

“They present ideas. If you can’t scribble your idea then you don’t have it. Let’s talk about ideas – not colours or logos.”

If these were some of the specific working methods that contribute to a more creative agency environment, Langwost argues that they count for little if not underpinned by one key element – belief.

This time, he quoted John Hegarty’s view that “belief comes first” and Silverstein’s “if I don’t get to sell it, I believe there is another idea behind it which wants to come out”.

Both of these comments get to the heart of the issue of creativity. To be strong in ideas you have to believe in them. Or, as Langwost pointed out: “If you don’t believe that big ideas work, you will never convince your client to use them.”

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