12 Feb

Creativity from opposites

This is a spin-off of someone else’s post. I saw that the creative director of The Good Agency, Reuben Turner, had commented on the campaign to end the exploitation of young creatives/placement teams, by ad agencies, by paying them nothing (or very little) for months.
You can see his post here.

The main point is, if ad agencies expect young creatives to prove their worth by working for nothing, day and night, possibly for months on end, then they’ll only be able to attract people who already have money, or whose parents have money.
The creative hubs, in the UK, are London, Manchester, and Bristol. These are not cities in which it’s cheap to live (even if renting a shoebox flat). These are not cities in which a landlord will accept ‘I’m on a placement’ as a reason for not paying rent. Food and heating also costs, and banks aren’t throwing overdrafts around like confetti, like they used to.
So, unless you or your parents are well off, working for nothing for months on end isn’t really an option… which means that the demographic for young creatives becomes, largely; white, middle class, 20-somethings, from places like Banbury, or Esher.

If you’re only attracting people from the same backgrounds, their creative influences and reference points are (bar their individual hobbies) going to be very similar, which, in the long run, will lead to very ‘samey’, bland creative concepts.
Little wonder that public perception appears to be; ‘all ads seem to be the same’… ‘oh, another bloody ad for [insert type of product here]…’

When I trained at West Herts College, I got together with a creative partner (art director). She was female and Brazilian. Given that I’m male and English, this was brilliant. We already had completely different mindsets, influences, and reference points, on the basis that we were of the opposite sex and came from different cultural backgrounds.
We could draw on the male Vs female way of looking at things (handy when working on certain briefs), and we could also draw on cultural influences from the different films, books, plays, places, languages, and art we knew of. I learnt about Brazilian cheese bread (pão de queijo) and she learnt pointless English idioms.

A mixture of cultural backgrounds makes for more interesting creative solutions, which can only be better for clients in the long run: clients who want something that ‘hasn’t been done before’.
Imagine the ideas that could be shared between a creative team consisting of a Ghanaian female graphic designer and a Greek male copywriter.
Now imagine the ideas that could be drawn upon by teams of only English, male, middle class 27-year-olds, from Oxfordshire.  I’m not saying a team with this make up couldn’t work, but if that’s the basis of every creative team in every agency, then it’s going to be much harder to produce campaigns that aren’t just ‘same old, same old’.

What you want – to produce creative ideas – is opposites: people with differing backgrounds and opinions. That’s where the gold lies. This proposal for a decent placement wage goes some way to ensuring that happens.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *