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


A Reminder Of The Power Of Creativity …

Creativity is getting a bit of a kicking these days.

Oh, people talk about it.

They wax on about how valuable it is.

But then they dictate a ‘formula’ … something they say ‘optimises’ effectiveness and efficiency … conveniently ignoring they are actually promoting the total opposite of what creativity is and how it works.

Complicity.

Somewhere along the line, we’ve decided the value of creativity is not related to output at all … just input.

Now there is truth to that, creativity definitely starts with the mind, however that never includes an endless list of superfluous and superficial mandatories followed by dictatorial demands regarding terminology, talent and ‘category codes’.

You don’t liberate the power of creativity by weighing it down with factors that – at best – can come much later in the process.

And yet it is happening more and more.

Where success is people knowing your name and your corporate colours.

It doesn’t matter if they like you or feel something about you, it’s all function attribution.

And that blows my mind because creativity is capable of incredible things.

Making people care.
Creating value and intrigue.
Driving change and differentiation.
Literally open up possibilities that make people want you rather than you having to chase them down or brainwash them into submission with millions of dollars of spend.

That all these possible outputs are being dismissed in favour of following a pre-determined process and output blows my mind.

Of course one of the big reasons for this is control.

Creativity asks people to let go of comfort zones.

Asks them to be open to new ways to solve old problems.

Demands them to trust someone who isn’t at all like them.

I get it, that’s scary and hard … and there’s definitely a lot of people and organisations who have been burnt by other people and organisations who claimed to offer ‘creativity’ but weren’t really that creative.

[Though it you’re going to value creativity by price point or complicity rather than the impact it has on your business … what do you expect?]

However while everyone has some form of creativity, there are some who know how to harness its power in ways that can change how millions think or feel or want to live.

Sure that may include your brand becoming synonymous with a colour.

Or a set of words.

But it will be more than that, because they will find a way where people value you for what you have added to their world.

Not simply functionally … but how they see and feel what’s around and possible.

And while there is always a risk it might not end up quite as successful as you hope, it is still better to end up with something that means everything to someone rather than nothing to everyone.

That said, when you see the possibilities of creativity – like this magical mural by Brazilian artist Fabio Gomes – then you may accept people who see the World differently to you can create ideas that are far bigger and more powerful than your World could ever imagine.



The Illusion Of Sustainability …

A few weeks ago, I got a take-away coffee where the design of the cup was obviously trying to look like it had a ‘heat sleeve’ around it.

I get it …

By reducing the use of paper/cardboard, we minimise waste.

There were just 2 problems with this.

1. It isn’t a heat sleeve.

2. You end up burning your hand around the cup.

Now while I appreciate this is still better than claiming to be doing something for the environment while actively fucking it, it’s still not perfect, even if I acknowledge their thinking.

But then a few days later I saw this …

OK, so it also has flaws.

Will you remember to bring back the mug?

Will you be able to drink out of it while you’re walking?

Will you feel comfortable it has been washed previously?

But weirdly I also like it.

I like it a lot.

Maybe it’s because it’s the sort of thing only a community would try to pull off and – after years of living here, there and everywhere, it’s nice to feel part of something.

But either way, it’s got my vote … which serves as a good reminder that the real obstacle to doing something good is whether you actually want to do it or not.

And no Uniliever … that doesn’t let you feel good for producing plant bottles, especially when you continue to profit from the cultural jail and prejudice you put millions of women throughout Asia in. You’re welcome.



How A Toilet Can Upset Alpha Males …

So recently I went to a semi-posh restaurant in Auckland with some clients.

I know this is too much info, but I needed the loo and off I went.

As I walked in, I saw this …

How brilliant is that?!

I bloody loved it and actually burst out laughing.

Fortunately I was able to take a photo without someone walking in and then rushing out to call the Police … but I can imagine Alpha Males seeing this and claiming it is a blatant attack on their human rights. Which – if you ask me – makes it even more perfect.

Of course, whether a restaurant should be happy one of their customers is raving over the interior design of their male loos rather than their food is another thing altogether … but hey, at least I’m raving about something of theirs.

Many companies talk about how brand experience, well … when you make sure your loo leaves a lasting impression on customers for all the right reasons, then you can say you really understand what experience really means.

Not many can.

🔎 🍆



Remember What You’re Paying For …

When I read that Rubin quote, it reinforced why I hate when companies devalue creativity.

Focused on working down to a price rather than up to a quality ..

An expense, rather than an investment.

Even though they then expect it to work it’s socks off for them.

And while it would be easy to throw all this blame at the organisations who hide behind their procurement departments, the reality is – as I mentioned in an earlier post – the ad industry are equally complicit in this downturn.

Look, I get it … we’re fighting for our lives.

But selling the value of creativity down the river in favour of process and hourly rates seems to be an act of self sabotage. An act that has ended up handing power to a group of people who ignore context and quality and just evaluate on the comparison of unit prices. Who then demand agencies to accept work based on a price/output ratio not on quality/value.

And what this means is talent – real talent – gets pushed out for being too expensive.

Or too demanding.

Or too stubborn.

Adland has always had an issue with ‘experience’, but this approach is also affecting the new and the different.

The people with different backgrounds, new ways of doing things, looking at the world in unique ways.

And all because the price/output ratio the agency agreed to, won’t allow for any exploring.

Any anything.

Instead, they need to execute exactly what is wanted, efficiently. precisely and repeatedly.

And what is wanted?

Well, whatever the producer has determined can be done in the time/budget allowed … using previous work as the blueprint even though [1] the context is different [2] they don’t know whether that previous work, worked and [3] reducing creative minds to simply executional monkeys is the quickest way to destroy confidence, character and creativity.

Because what everyone seems to be forgetting is what it takes to make great work.

It’s not just about putting a brief in front of someone and – voila – it’s done.

Creativity is born from years of experiences, adventures, wins and losses, stories and songs, failures and fuck-ups.

Where every step of the journey has played a role in crafting that thing that will make so many people feel, think and do so much.

Ignoring that … devaluing that … not catering for that … doesn’t just mean you’re working against your own best interests, it means you’ve have failed to realise what you’re really paying an agency for.

It’s not simply to make an ad, it’s so they can hire the people who have the most interesting ways of looking at the world because of the experiences, ideas and imagination from the life you never had.



Welcome To The Era Of The Mundane …

The quote at the top of this page is what Frank Sinatra said about Elvis Presley.

If anything was going to turn youth towards the new musical force of the King, it was going to be comments like that.

But what I find interesting is the ad industry should understand this point more than most … however, I’m not sure we do anymore.

We appear to take more delight in being accurate than being exciting.

Now I appreciate this makes me sound like an old bastard but hang on for a second …

What I find interesting – at least where music is concerned – is that in the past, it was ‘the establishment’ who were frightened of the new and misunderstood, but that seems much less the case these days.

If anything, the establishment are bored nothing is scaring them.

Now there are some explanations for this …

Some of it is because of how the music industry has changed …

Rather than breaking new talent, they’re much more interested betting on certainties, because there goal is for lowering risk not pushing things forward. [Hence their appropriation of TikTok to flog back-catalogue tracks]

Some of it is because technology has allowed music to get ultra niche …

Thanks to music streaming platforms, people can now choose the genres they like and pretty much filter out everything else. What this means is we can kid ourselves into believing there’s less new dangerous music being created when the reality is we’re keeping it out rather than welcoming it in. Add to that the decline of radio – which was a central and universal place where a lot of music discovery took place – and we are actively cutting ourselves off from the new and uncomfortable.

Finally, some of it is because the power of music is not the cultural force it once was …

Don’t get me wrong, music is still ultra powerful, but in some ways, it seems to have gone from being at the forefront of culture to the background of it. Some will say that has always been the case – the ‘soundtrack to your life’ – but for people who have always lived for music, it was rarely just an accompaniment to whatever you were doing.

For me, a lot of the ‘danger’ that used to be synonymous with music has gone into gaming.

When Grand Theft Auto came out, it was almost like punk in the 70’s.

A game both universally loved and hated for what it represented.

Rather than trying to be something for everyone, it shamelessly wanted to be everything to someone … and because of the shifts in culture, technology, media, business model and price points, it meant it could be a very lucrative business to be in .

Of course, like all industries, too many companies simply try to jump on whatever bandwagon is cool in that moment … but for me, if you’re looking for the new rock n’ roll, it’s in gaming.

That does not mean dangerous music doesn’t exist.

But it’s power to change culture is not what it once was.

It’s more likely to be found in a game rather than us discovering a new artist.

Which reveals the dirty little secret about people.

The real reason people this there is a ‘lack of danger’ in music is because we’re lazy.

In the past, we would crash into it thanks to mass radio and media – but now, with everything at our command – it requires us to actively put ourselves out there to find it and frankly, we don’t want to.

For all the brilliant things technology can do for us, it has made us lethargically comfy.

We want everything on a plate.

We don’t want to lift a finger.

And while tech could also help overcome this, it’s been designed to satisfy not aggravate … which is why the only way you’ll find the dangerous edges is if you walk towards it rather than expect it to come to you.

It’s something adland needs to remember, because while some may say ‘exciting is indulgence’, it’s got more economic and cultural power than being ‘accurate’.