It's a bit daunting starting a new business in your late 50's but apparently, the most successful startup founders are over the age of 45. It seems new ideas work better with old hands.
This really shouldn't come as a surprise, they've always said you have to thoroughly learn the rules before you can break them.
Now, I never want to be one of those old farts who constantly bemoans how advertising has gone to the dogs, I personally think this is the most exciting time ever in our business.
But some of the rules that used to be sacrosanct seem to no longer exist.
Like creatives have original ideas and possess the craft skills to realise them.
Take this poster that was released this week:
I'll give kudos to the agency for doing something different in a boring category and for having a woman on the creative team, but the only real idea here is 'let's use a cool skateboard artist from California'.
Look closely and you'll see it's really just a client brief made palatable by an execution.
And this is not a one-off incident. It's endemic throughout the industry.
While I was studying screenwriting I wrote director's treatments to earn a buck while keeping in the headspace.
My brief was usually a recording of the creative team briefing the director, I’ve kept all of them, they’re hilarious!
First of all, I NEVER heard a female voice (except the producer, of course) and the crap that came out of the boys' mouths had to be heard to be believed. They were nothing like the boys I started my career in London with, usually from a council house and often from up north, they were the smart Alecs who discovered how to make a fortune from being f**king funny. Today's boys sounded like Kellogg clients in the 90’s and they couldn’t write a script if their life depended on it.
One brief was, “So long as it gets to a life or death decision based on a yes/no answer you can do whatever you want.”
Wow, not even an execution, just a device.
The Oscar-winning director I was working with pitched the job by saying he’d get an Oscar-winning screenwriter to write something.
So artists do the art direction and screenwriters write the scripts?
Does that mean modern day creatives are nothing more than highly-specialised
Where's the craft? Where's the originality? Where's the f**king idea?
You'd think google would make a creative's life easier – it just makes it bland.
Back in the day, the great Warren Brown always said, "The one with the most reference, wins." and it was true, we all had a big folder of inspirational photo's, works of art and great writing, we had bookshelves filled with obscure titles, we went to see lots of weird movies, strange performances, and went to unheard of places looking for original ideas that we could combine or twist to turn into new original ideas.
To add to the level of difficulty, those original ideas would perfectly (if, not necessarily, logically) answer the client's strategy, and more importantly, the consumer's need.
I'd be foolish to wish that the creative departments of the past will return, but the great thing about starting again from scratch, is you don't have to incorporate anything that doesn't work, no matter how widespread.
We'll bring in many of the treasures the millennials bring to the party these days, but there will NEVER be a 'new-fangled' creative strategist in any janee office.
I will only ever employ strategic creatives who know how to communicate the most complicated client challenge in its absolute essence.
And we'll train new strategic creatives from all sorts of backgrounds. You won't find rows and rows of vanilla kids wearing headphones, actually, I doubt you'll see anyone trying to crack a brief on a screen in the office.
That's not where ideas come from.
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