Creative excellence is top priority for adland

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It's wearily predictable to kick off a new year with a batch of predictions. But this week's issue is a vital road map of what lies ahead, if not exactly for 2013 then for advertising's middle distance.

There's plenty to jolt the industry out of any lingering economy-induced lethargy. And if you manage to get through the following pages without a swelling excitement, then you should probably move your ass to make way for someone who knows a good opportunity when they read one.

From the real world web and the rise of networked brands to innovations in traditional media: interactive cinema, posters powered by near field communication and the seamless ubiquity of the screen experience.

Crucially, Ian Pearman has a view on what all of these changes mean for the make-up of an advertising agency. It’s a simple enough approach: "When so much of the impact of our industry’s ideas is becoming a function of earned rather than bought media, the real metric for our own health should be how successfully we manage and monetise our contribution to that effect."

That means charging a proper price for it, and driving a new round of consolidation of agency rosters. But it also underlines the fact that at the heart of everything, still, outstanding creativity is core… absolutely imperative.

So I reckon Jonathan Burley’s could be the most important essay of them all. Not because it uncovers creative secrets or holds up a signpost for creative success, but because the thing itself illustrates the magic that will ensure agencies’ survival, whatever the shape of the industry and what’s required of it: creative excellence.

Any manner of consultants, technology companies, data miners, media brands can chip away at agencies’ foundations. Inspired creativity, though, is not a function that can be built, franchised and commoditised, and brilliant creatives are rare; they’re agencies’ most precious assets and agencies need to put a proper value on what they do.

Before anything else, agencies need to invest in, champion and truly value their creative talent. The best agencies already do – which is why, in a beautiful virtuous circle, they attract the best creatives. For the rest, business is only going to get tougher and opportunities harder to grasp.

The year ahead holds plenty of changes and opportunities for Campaign too. Our magazine will debut its new look shortly and our app is bringing our content to life in new ways. Next week, Danny Rogers takes over from me as editor and I’m off to champion brave, brilliant and creative clients (who are, after all, the people who can and must make all of the above happen) over on Marketing, where some radical plans are brewing for the brand. Happy New Year.

claire.beale@haymarket.com

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