The Joy of Creativity


For marketers seeking fulfilment…

During my wonderful sojourn of Watching/Reading/Writing/Waiting, I’ve listened too. Actually, done a lot of it.

What’s been unsettling to hear is that brilliant people I’ve known for years and new entrants to the industry alike, are unfulfilled. Even celebrated figures have admitted it once they’re off the podium. And not just creatives, across the board. Brands and agencies. Big and small. Weird isn’t. A creative industry that people don’t seem to be enjoying.

And the public aren’t enjoying either. I’m hearing of I,000,000,000 people with ad-blockers on – over half the attendees at a recent industry event among them. Over half the students on an advertising course at a University I visited. The Drum reporting ‘bombardment and oversaturation putting the UK ad industry at risk’ according to the latest Kantar Dimension report. And unsurprisingly advertisers bottom of the Ipsos Mori Voracity Index. Below politicians. Yeah, below.

And everyone’s busy. Brands and agencies. Busy, busy, busy … doing … stuff.

The real-time data analytics, technology and media arms race promises so much – it still does. But what’s been neglected? Hyper-efficient media distribution showing me that what I’d just bought I could have got cheaper – from the company I’d just bought it from! Thanks. Where’s the humanity in that? Targeting. Re-targeting. Over-targeting. Overcome. Switch off. XXXX off.

Of course there are exceptions (you’re probably one of them, right?) but some of this must be sounding familiar.

Formulaic work. Bland brands. Stories untold. No time to think. Just deliver. Busy, busy, busy. An industry searching for ‘scientific certainties’ not embracing uncertainty in creativity. An inexorable migration towards marketing parity rather than the left-turn into the potential of something new.

The evidence seems to bear out the belief, that creative people (marketers as a whole I’d hope) are really only happy when they’re making stuff. Something beyond merely chasing the public around the internet. How much of that can you really enjoy?

I'm reminded of this quote 'If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be', from the light that was Maya Angelou. My word, there is a lot of normal going on.

Folk of a certain vintage will remember the enlightening tome The Joy of Sex. Look it up (but maybe not at work). Feels like it’s time for another version, The Joy of Creativity. A resurgence of joy in problem solving, not cookie-cutter execution. The space for experimentation and time for a little magic. Something that sparks unbridled passion across the whole industry. Something to fire-up the data, tech and media.

Creativity, the thing that Ken Robinson brilliantly observed gets taught out of us, might need another manual, or a compendium of some of the inspirational ones out there (Birss, Collister, Sachs, Barden et al). We might even manage without the pictures! Creativity discovered, or re-discovered for a generation. When it’s done brilliantly creativity fulfils brands and agencies, and critically the humans in them. It would lead to a more vibrant industry from top to bottom - not just the ‘cool brands’. In fact, let’s go and make some more cool brands. Or make more brands cool.

Marketers will be happier. And the public will be happier with the work. The work will be better and more effective. Brands will build.

The good ones might get bigger.

The middle-sized ones can try and topple them.

And the little ones can sling a stone in their eye.

Because with creativity you can.

Oh the joy!

Ian Bates