The Creative Apocalypse: Preparing your Client

The Creative Apocalypse: Preparing your Client!

There is great, there is good and there is average (ok).

Superlative. Comparative. Relative. Most of us want  (at least there is good enough intent!) to do good work and over a period of time how that transmits to average and below remains an unsolved mystery. Have we ever started out saying; ” Let’s do some Great Work “? No one came into the profession thinking ‘I really want to produce work that’s a bit meh, a bit vanilla, that makes no impact on the world and sinks without a trace.’ So how come we don’t see brave creative work that often? The occasional breakthrough shines like a lighthouse across a lacklustre sea of work that is often undeniably boring, weirdly familiar or just more than a little disappointing.

 

So how is the end game playing out? It’s a whole new world out there. Recession or no recession- there is a perennial pressure on budgets and jobs. The ‘always on shifting media landscape and the move from broadcasting messages to managing conversations. The balancing of brand, ROI and an increasing reliance on data and metrics. There is safety in numbers (metrics reloaded!). Data is the new oil. And that too is now old hat. And how! All of these things have stitched together a sinister conspiracy in the last 10 years or so and made it more difficult for creatively brave work to ever see the light today(with some exceptions of course).  It takes real balls for a client, or an agency, to take a leap of faith in this climate. Till then, it’s a lip of fate! And sealed at that. ‘ Faith accompli ‘ anyone?

Where does the skull drudgery end? What can be done? Selling creatively brave ideas requires an ability to promote the safety of risky situations (don’t miss the contradiction here), psychological management skills and a client that can hold their nerve (while letting go of her purse strings!). Sometimes you have to help hold it for them.

This situation provides both agency and the client an absolutely perfect platform to do creative tango. So here is the brief(in vest in it!): Depart from norm(it’s the mandatory new normal, so no big deal), break free from convention whilst remaining true to creating lasting campaign impact and brand recall. Surprise, delight, coerce, intimidate, purposefully provoke, question and come back to do more of the same. The brain remembers only what it least expects. So, deliver the unexpected. Don’t just hand hold the client, hold her heart and get to your customers’ soul in the process. That soul stirring exercise should be your sole purpose.

 

USP(Unique Selling Proposition) is passe, dead and buried. The time is about creating UFP( Unique Feeling Proposition). 

 

WANTED: Creative Bravehearts. On both sides. Ready to take the leap?

Is true talent shying away from advertising?

It’s episode one of the cult classic Mad Men series and ad-man Don Draper in the climax reveals the campaign idea for Lucky Strike cigarettes ” It’s toasted “. A scene that captured attention and sparked the show’s runaway success. It’s toasted was also a real tagline for Lucky Strike cigarettes, adopted by the brand way back in 1917.

Those were the heady days of advertising– an eclectic mix of craziness, Machiavellian egos, cult personalities, big ideas, mind numbing creative campaigns, wild parties, rock and roll, high profit margins(15% commission days)….it goes on. Little wonder it was the industry that a lot of talent aspired to get into. Made for good conversation piece.

The times they have a changed. Advertising as an industry is no longer the flavour of the season when it comes to attracting top talent. This inspite of being a 560Billion US$ industry worldwide in 2019 and growing over 4% compared to the previous year with N America and Asia Pacific reflecting the maximum growth.

What could have happened especially over the last decade and a half? Let’s examine a few factors:

  • the risk appetite for taking up and executing ‘ big ideas ‘ within the agency set up seems to be on the wane. The increasing role of the CFO in marketing and advertising decisions and thereby ROI first always could be a strong influencing factor..
  • the big shift has happened from ‘ gut instinct ‘ to ‘ data precinct ‘ when it comes to execution of campaigns. Freewheeling thinking seem to have taken a backseat
  • young talent do not get a ‘ sense of self ‘- seniority still upends merit when it comes to prized, exciting projects- if you don’t want us, we don’t want you seems to be the thinking
  • with profit margins in the advertising industry shrinking, remuneration and salaries have taken a beating. Talent is seeking alternate, better paying professions
  • the average tenure of the CMO & Brand Manager has come down drastically. Why stick your neck out when going through the motions will do nicely. The Domino effect is reflected in the freedom(or the lack of it) given to the agency- legacy thinking dominates, not exactly a motivation for talent craving to find their own expression
  • start ups with sizeable venture capital funding have mushroomed all over. They are dabbling in hitherto unexplored territories and using cutting edge technology to harness market potential and become game changers. The natural tendency for talent is to move to areas that are changing, future ready and dynamic
  • alternate,fast growing and better paying professions like entertainment, stand up, v logging, blogging, music etc seems to have taken the sheen away from advertising for the wannabes
  • Digital proliferation and the quest for entrepreneurship are driving many to find their feet and make their own dents in the universe
  • The Big 5 of Consulting are not thinking like the Big 6 of Advertising while clearly trespassing into the domain. New entrants are bringing in new thinking, new possibilities- talent will have to realign

Clearly the advertising industry of the future(if it remains to be called that) and the talent that moves there will certainly not be a thing of the past. When change is the only constant, an industry remaining constant without change is not an attraction. As an US$560billion industry, it has enough muscle to bounce back(as long it does not rely on muscle memory). All the die harders(Bruce included) are willing and waiting!

ENDS

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