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

The Freaks Move Us Forward …

When we think of the people who are pushing society forward, who do we tend to think of?

OK, so a lot of that is dependent on your personal context … but in general, I would say we’d tend to think of scientists, technologists and – occasionally – politicians, to name but a few.

And while I totally agree with that, I think so much of the things that move culture forward are the freaks and the outsiders.

They might not get the credit.

They might not get the acclaim.

But so much of what ends up becoming the mainstream is created by the people in the shadows … those who didn’t follow the rules or expectations of others because they either didn’t know what they were or weren’t in a position to ever stand a chance of achieving it.

The misfits are the ones who can make the biggest differences.

Not because they know how to break the rules, but they don’t know what the rules are.

For the record, this does not make them rebels.

Rebels is something in the eye of the observer, not the beholder.

These people simply see the World differently which shapes why they do things differently.

They’re the people adland should be embracing more of.

Yes, I know it may mean they’re harder to work with.

Yes, I know clients may question what they are offering to their business.

But the power of creativity starts with how you think and this is exactly why we should be embracing them.

One of the best people we ever hired used to be a kids bed designer at IKEA.

Another was a pig feed salesmen.

Both of them had absolutely no idea what advertising was beyond the executions they see every day.

And yet both of them were brilliant for exactly this fact … because they were able to use their unique creative talent to develop ideas I doubt anyone ‘trained in advertising’ could ever achieve.

Don’t get me wrong, being trained in the craft of advertising is vital – and there’s amazing people who can do amazing things that outsiders, or anyone else for that matter, may never achieve – but I fear we are in danger of becoming an industry of ‘production line thinkers and doers’ and that’s why we need to embrace those who play outside the lines of the creativity because without them, we’re getting far too neat and tidy in our responses to challenges.

Now I fully appreciate holding companies and clients may think ‘neat and tidy’ is a wonderful thing – it means greater efficiency, accuracy and profitability – but that’s short-term thinking, because in a World where competition is more intense than ever, creativity may be the only legal means a company has to counter heritage, distribution and budget and the only way we can ensure our creativity works it’s best is if we embrace the people who don’t follow the rules because they don’t even know what they are.

23 Comments so far
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You’re the granddaddy of freaks.

Comment by Billy Whizz

And first. Winner.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Predictive text let you down there.

Comment by John

biggest fucking lost more like.

Comment by andy@cynic

i hate agreeing with you campbell but youre fucking right. adland has lost the fucking freaks. the talented pricks. the freaks in agencies today are kids who fucking skateboard. thats how low its gone. it used to be they encouraged you to have second jobs. fashion or music or art. anything that developed your creative edge. now they make you do timesheets and work 70 hours a week. the only freakish thing about the people who do that is they do that.

Comment by andy@cynic

Agree. Agencies are now filled with people who previously worked at agencies.

Comment by Pete

Great point Pete.

Comment by George

Oh yes Pete, that’s a great, great point. It’s not that people who worked in adland before are bad – of course not – but creative people with a different set of rules and experiences drive bigger change. Or they used to before we stopped letting them in.

Comment by Rob

made adland great again. id vote for that. id vote for agencies to feel more like a fucking artschool than a wanker accountancy firm.

Comment by andy@cynic

You have my vote.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Turning Wayne from a pig feed salesman to one of the best planners BBH ever fired is an incredible level of talent recognition, career growth and self sabotage. Do you still hear from him Rob? Always good to see his occasional comments on here. .

Comment by Pete

I do, but not as often as I like.

The fact he is still such a good man after going through the most horrific situation any of us could imagine shows we were very lucky to have him with us.

Comment by Rob

I agree with everything said in this post though I do think anyone starting out in the industry would read this and think we are just like those old men in pubs who complain there hasn’t been any good music since Thr Beatles. Thank goodness WK and a few others still exist to give an outlet to the crazy. But a friend of mine there recently told me that even Wieden seems to be hearing more to business, though obviously a long way back compared to the majority of their competition.

Comment by George

Maybe the BBC could hire us for a reboot of Grumpy Old Men?

Comment by Rob

All industries need to resist reverting to the mean, so suggesting everybody reads the same books isn’t going to help.

Comment by John

Holding companies are mainly to blame. They never could distinguish between ‘service’ and ‘servility’.

Comment by Ian Gee

I like this post a lot.

Comment by Marcus

An excellent read Robert.

In addition to George’s close connection with our founder, one of the reasons we hired cynic was because you were a band of misfits. We were excited at what could come out of that dynamic and we were not disappointed. Not often anyway.

Comment by Lee Hill

but it was mainly because of auntie george. and my fucking brilliance.

Comment by andy@cynic

I completely agree with what you’re saying, but then there’s this.

I’m just going to leave this link here.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

boom. though the freaks im talking about are creative fuckers and thats hardly ever a fucking ceo. even if they run their company theyd never call themselves a ceo. theyd rather kill themselves.

Comment by andy@cynic

Without a doubt.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

i believe that creativity and respect are all we have

Comment by ibdourado

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