The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Maybe Max Was Mad Because He Had Too Many People Offering Their Opinion?
February 6, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment, Creative Development

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‘.

22 Comments so far
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This is great reading Rob. Brilliant points that explain the implications and responsibilities you need to understand and act on if you want to make great work that makes a difference. It’s been a great week of posts, may they long continue.

Comment by Pete

occasionally he writes something i agree with. its fucking rare but the law of averages means he has to get something right every now and then. the next is due around 2077. hopefully ill be dead before i have to fucking read it.

Comment by andy@cynic

2077? You give me more credit than I imagined.

Comment by Rob

That pretty much sums up my view too.

Comment by Bazza

Bravo Robert. Extremely well said.

Comment by George

It’s always the planners fault. The client is paying so I can handle their fucked up comments but 99% of planners are just parasites on creativity. I’m still not sure if your in the 1 or 99%.

Comment by Billy Whizz

When you liked my work you were in the 1%.

Comment by Billy Whizz

So he was in the 99% for 99% of the time. Which is why Rob is in the 1%.

Comment by George

1-0 to George.

Comment by DH

when you first came in, you couldnt hit an idea it it was fucking bent over waggling its arse right in front of you so be grateful for what we did for you. even campbell deserves some praise for putting up with you when you were putting utter shit in front of him every day for fucking months. fuck me, have i just defended campbell. time for a visit to mr j walker black.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m freaking out. You’re basically protecting my honour. I’d say you’re like a Knight in shining armour but that would make me the princess and I’m not having that.

Comment by Rob

Oh you’re definitely a princess Rob.

Comment by DH

To quote Issigonis “A camel is a horse designed by committee”.

Comment by John

So was a camel toe created by a lycra committee?

Comment by DH

I begrudgingly like this post. It’s hard to argue against and that makes me feel worse.

Comment by DH

crowdsourcing is the biggest fucking death to craft ive ever fucking seen. that companies think its ok to hand over their brand to any fucker on the street shows everyfucking thing wrong with the business. they think its “empowering loyalty”. its making every fucker look a mug. a big fucking mug.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Rob

I hope we will see more of these topics being covered Robert. It is valuable and important. Well done.

Comment by Lee Hill

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Max on a number of occasions. He rarely lived up to his moniker, but caused quite a stink at a graduation ceremony. Good times.

Comment by John

Mr Dodds, that is brilliant. Mischievous, but brilliant.

Comment by Rob

It’s decent sarcasm but I wouldn’t call it brilliant. Sorry John.

Comment by DH

Parody, not sarcasm, but not brilliant.

Comment by John

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