Home > advertising theory, creative thinking, Creativity > a response to the next creative revolution

a response to the next creative revolution

I re-read the creativity-online article, the next creative revolution from Nick Law, chief RGA’s creative director. And I realised I got it completely wrong the first time I read it. Here’s my understanding of what he was trying to communicate to us, in Plain English (or Franglish as you may say).

On advertising as entertainment:

Followers of Saint Bill believed that people are so amused by advertising that they run right out and buy stuff.

Well, that’s a bit provocative for the sake of it. Advertising is not just entertainment. And they aren’t that many ads that actually try to be funny. People don’t run right out and buy stuff as a general rule, even if you give them the coolest brand utility.

Advertising as entertainment still works very well (when done properly that is). Look at Nike, Axe, Honda… Period. But Nick’s got a point there:

The sons of Bernbach like making ads more than people like watching them

The problem is not trying to do funny ads or entertainment, the problem is that there is more and more advertising and the quality has dropped massively. This is what makes TV advertising less efficient. But it’s still the most powerful media when used properly (I watched the Nike ad yesterday on telly, spectacular).

Nick’s got another good point in saying a good joke with a punchline is not a good thing. This is because it’s not good advertising either. He’s right when he mentions the fact that a TV executions doesn’t always have an idea. This is a problem.

The first thing an advertising agency will create is a TV script. And if you are lucky, it’s got an idea within it. But most often than not, it won’t. Hence why the majority of TV ads are being ignored, or worse, laughed at. Leading to the next point…


The storytellers will just keep coming up with “Big Ideas” as they’ve always done, but instead of putting them on TV, they’ll figure out a way to “extend” them on the web.

For the web guy, who was recruited with the promise of a seat at the Bernbachian table, it feels more like integration at gunpoint […] shoving a square-peg concept into a round-hole medium.

Again, the problem with starting with traditionnal creatives (not storytellers) is that (most) have learned to think in passive medium. No one needs to tell them how a TV or print ad works. But unfortunately, the idea they come up with are often not transferable to the active medium that is the Internet.

The product influences the choice of medium and the medium influences the message.

A modern idea needs have legs for the digital world. You cannot force integration out of a TV execution that wasn’t meant to achieve that in the first place.

Which leads me to my most important point: ideas are the new executions. Ideas are now more powerful than a single execution. Look at Nike Joga Bonito. The campaign was very powerful, yet no executions really stood out. It was the whole campaign (TV + online + events + community) that turned it into a success.

And how do you get to these big ideas? By changing the creation process and yes, collaborating:

The copywriter and art director should now be a part of a flat, flexible and modular creative team that understands technology and how the customer relates to it. Flat: because no one knows it all. Flexible: because you’ll be making a bunch of different things (including some things that haven’t been invented yet). Modular: because you’ll need different combinations of talents at different times to make all these things.

The ‘future’ of advertising depends on our ability to recognise that we need to get to a great idea first and that’s not the sole responsability of a art director and copywriter but that of a new creative team that incorporates new types of creative people.

Executing should come at the very end of that proccess, with the relevant people for each task. Consistency should be achieved with the idea, not the execution.

  1. helgetenno
    May 5, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks a lot for some excellent Franglish articulation of your concept: “Ideas are the new executions”. I had to quote the whole last part of your post on my own blog.

    Especially like the focus on “ideas” as the main and most important ingredient as I find The Kaisers Editions take on the “content revolution” part rather odd saying that ideas are dead, long live design.

    I think I agree with you saying that brands need to move in to content creation as a part of their marketing scheme – but all under the umbrella of a good coherent idea/meaning/story. using the idea to shape and design all activities.

  2. Digicynic
    May 6, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Thanks a lot for that. You are more than welcome.
    I have to start investigating what they mean by the future of advertising is design. I don’t know what they are talking about and so far, it’s been kind of puzzling me.

  3. JacobW
    May 7, 2008 at 5:37 am

    J, this is a little unfair of me as it’s the original article that I think is full of crap, and not your analysis. But I’m going to post this quote anyhow:

    “I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.”
    – GK Chesterton

    Anyone who dismisses someone as successful and important as Bernbach out of hand without fully coming to grips with his work and ideas is a moron. Full stop.

  4. Digicynic
    May 7, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Funny you say that. That’s what I originally thought. But I think he’s just trying to be provocative for the sake of it. Like the ‘TV ads are dead’ type of stuff.
    It’s a (you could say rather desperate) attempt to get heard.
    I actually understand his frustration having worked in digital agencies for a long time. You are not just taken seriously by your ATL counterparts.
    The problem with this kind of statement is that you lose credibility. I almost completely dismissed his article after reading the first paragraph. But if you carry on, it’s got some nice nuggets.
    Shame about the form though.

  5. January 27, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Hi there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my
    facebook group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Thank you

  1. May 5, 2008 at 7:30 pm
  2. May 27, 2008 at 11:12 am
  3. September 11, 2008 at 10:04 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: