The Secret Marketer talks about creatives

In my column last week, I suggested that an agency creative director may have put their own personal ego ahead of answering my brief. In doing this, I suggested that the agency had completely ignored the rather sensible inputs of his account suit and planning colleagues.

It appears that I have upset a fair few creative types, who did not like my suggestion that this kind of thing still goes on. I hate to tell you guys this, but even if it is not happening at your own shop, it is very much still prevalent at an agency near you.

This is not the first time in my career that I have had a spat with a creative. In fact, the older I get, the less tolerant I have become.

Before anybody accuses me of a crusade against the advertising community, I should point out that I am delighted to count several top creative directors among my closest personal friends. They are the smartest, most talented people I know.

When creative work is done properly, it is priceless and I have enjoyed first-hand experience of working on brands that have been completely transformed by the right creativity.

So I am a believer. But let’s face it, much of the work produced by our industry is solid but not spectacular. For every truly brilliant piece of work, there are hundreds of others that tick the boxes but don’t really move the dial.

For every truly brilliant piece of work, there are hundreds of others that tick the boxes but don’t really move the dial.

Clients are as guilty as anybody else for settling for mediocrity. This is one thing, but what drives me completely insane is when agencies present indulgent creative work that has little or no connection to the brand or business challenge that has been posed. Contrary to how some creatives still continue to treat it, the client brief is not a sponsored arts project.

We all understand that some creatives do not wish to spend their entire working life in marketing. For many, it pays the bills and provides a leg up to bigger dreams. One of the best creatives I ever worked with is now a film director. He wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to leave the marketing sector behind.

The greatest compliment I can pay him is that when he worked in advertising he always focused on the task in hand. He took pride in doing a great job. I got terrific sales results and he got a ticket to the movies. I couldn’t have written a better script.


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