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

Creativity Is About Lateral Leaps, Not Literal Execution …

So while going through my photos, I found this screen grab from Dave Trott …

To be honest, I wrote about this a couple of years ago but if it was relevant then, it seems even more relevant now.

There is more and more work that just seems to be a literal execution of the client brief.

Not even the agency brief … but the clients.



Feature focused.

I can’t help but feel their strategy is to bore people into submission, and while it may be argued this approach is working – probably because all the competition are following the same thing – the reality is the value of the brand gets diluted and so the long term success of the brand ends up being based on factors like price or distribution.

Of course, price and distribution always have and always will play a critical role in a brands success, but the inherent value of it is elevated hugely when you are in a position that people actively want it and seek it out. Yet, as I wrote a while back, it appears many brand managers are only focused on sales today without any consideration for the sustainable value of the brand tomorrow and if you are constantly harvesting your good will, eventually it will run out.

The big issue is so many marketers still think people are waiting for them to advertise.

That they are sat on the edge of their seat waiting to hear from them and buy from them.

That they have nothing better to do and all that they do do, is based on rational logic.

This approach says far more about the people behind the brands than the people they hope will buy from them and while I appreciate creativity requires a leap of faith – something some marketing folk weirdly feel is an act of corporate irresponsibility – the fact is society respond to [authentic] emotion far more than rational argument, at least in terms of communication, and so if they want their brand to move forward, the only thing that can counter spend, heritage and distribution is to embrace creativity and to do that properly, it means being Lateral, not literal.

20 Comments so far
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Well written and well said Robert.
The good news is companies are starting to respect brand value once again. The bad news is they may think they know how to communicate this and start mandating the approach they want agencies to follow. If adland blindly agrees to this, they’ve lost their last chance to regain the value and commercial importance.

Comment by George

Many years ago, you told me that you believed a lot of communication was created to validate the importance of the people working at the company. More specifically, to make the people behind the cheese filled crust of pizza to believe they are doing important work. I doubted you then. I was wrong. Ego can have many positives for a companies growth except when it’s to used to bolster insecurities.

Comment by George

Yep. The industry has had its 9 lives … can’t screw this one up. We know more about how culture thinks, feels and acts than almost any other industry and we have the ability to use creativity in ways that make people give a shit and do something about it.

It’s time we got back to doing this and showing our worth rather than pandering in an attempt to maintain our delusion we have a genuine seat at the table. Even CMO’s are finding it hard to have a seat at the table so pandering agencies certainly won’t. Earn the right rather than expect it.

Comment by Rob

it only works if the pricks pull their heads out of their arse and that wont happen because they like the fucking smell in there.

Comment by andy@cynic

This would be better if I believed Trott could still come up with great ideas.

Comment by Billy Whizz


Comment by Pete

Billy comes in. Throws a grenade. Leaves.

That means Billy has more in common with Rob than he would want to admit..

Comment by Bazza

fuck me baz, thats the fucking shittest thing anyone has ever said to billy. i fucking love it.

Comment by andy@cynic

Fuck off midget boy.

Comment by Billy Whizz

What I find ridiculous is clients telling agencies what the work should be then blaming them when they don’t get the results they want. Both parties are complicit in each other’s failure and failings.

Comment by Pete

Love “lateral not literal”. That’s all you need to remember.

Comment by Pete

Yep. Literally. Hahahaha.

Comment by Rob


Comment by Pete

Bravo Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

Worth remembering what excites the public is very different to what excites companies.

Comment by Bazza

Good point. The word ‘excite’ is also important in this statement. That doesn’t necessarily mean ‘bells and whistles’ but it does mean make people think or look at something in a different way … while still being resonant to culture and authentic to what the brand does/stands for.

Comment by Rob

What Dave Trott is really talking about is why it is difficult to get old in this business. It’s not because you lose touch in a young person’s industry. It’s that you stop being arsed with diplomacy. It’s that you can no longer subdue your cynicism with optimism. In one of Martin Weigel’s presentation decks there’s a slide that shows when – sometime in the 90’s I think – people stopped thinking that the ads were better than the TV programmes around them. From that point on, the industry has gradually been forgetting how to get great work out. Not how to have great ideas, but how to get great work made and out into the public domain. People like Dave remember but they are not necessarily appreciated by agency colleagues or clients because they make life difficult in an attempt to make the work better.

Comment by Phil Adams

I agree with most of this …

I certainly agree the industry doesn’t like people who cause trouble – even if the reasons for this is the quest for something truly great. We don’t admit it, but the vast majority of the marketing industry value complicity far more than change.


I also agree that as you get older, you give less of a shit about playing nice. Not in the sense you want to be a dick, but you don’t want to be complicit to political obstacles that literally stop great things from happening.


But the bit I am not 100% convinced of is the belief you can be old and still maintain the tastes, habits and values of younger generations.

Maybe you’re not saying that, but the reality is while you may be able to have a contextual understanding of the tastes, habits and values of the young, you are doing it from an observational perspective rather than that of an insider, so the work you do never quite hits the mark and ends up being relevant rather than truly resonant.

That doesn’t mean being old means being irrelevant … one of the things I loved about Wieden was they valued creativity and didn’t devalue age … but in doing that, they ensured creative talent was supported, surrounded and filled with other creatively talented people who knew what was going on in culture there and then and could express it authentically to ensure what came out the other end felt born from inside the culture rather than an older persons interpretation of what they think the culture is doing.


Comment by Rob

its way too fucking early for me to agree with you campbell. only bright point is i know thats it for 2020 so i can get back to fucking hating you.

Comment by andy@cynic

Me too. Stop it Rob, I don’t come here to agree with you.

Comment by DH

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