A view from the top
A view from Ian Haworth

A view from the top

One week São Paulo, the next New York and then straight onto Coventry. Ooooh, the glamour of it all.

As a global chief creative officer, I have the regular privilege of seeing the world through many different lenses.

I get a view of global creativity first hand, working with our clients and agencies all over the world. Great for the air miles and terrible for the bags under my eyes.

A couple of weeks ago, I had three big client workshops and a keynote speech at a conference in São Paulo.

Brazil is an amazing country going through massive change. An emerging middle class, a burgeoning economy going through a blip, a bit of civil unrest, building on a massive scale, and a World Cup and an Olympics to host, all with very little infrastructure. Yikes. Frenetic and kinetic.

With all this going on, the standout thing in the marketing community is an incredible passion and appreciation of creativity. They get that creativity is the most powerful of business tools. Everything was about how to push and be bold with our creativity, from our clients to our staff. It wasn’t about being courageous, it was about wanting the best. I always come away from Brazil rejuvenated and inspired. Everything is driven by the soul.

Next, I was up in the northern part of the American continent and on the eastern side at an industry gathering. Boy, what a difference. There was frustration from the creative community and a mistrust of creativity from the clients who were there.

Conservatism and fear ruled the day, not passion and desire. The people were nice, earnest, sincere and smart; it’s just the cultural dynamic was so different.

Then I was in Coventry, where I came across the same attitude as I did on the eastern seaboard.

I find it such a shame that, particularly here in the UK, we have let ourselves get into this position. I’m generalising, but it’s a strong sense I get when I go from culture to culture that we’re just nervous and scared.

I sense huge risk aversion by clients and agencies in the UK. All the pre-testing and research is like a comfort blanket and there is a reliance on trying to over-intellectualise the solution when it needs exactly the opposite.

What we do isn’t intellectual. Clever, funny, smart, emotional, instinctive, human: yes. Intellectual: no.

I feel the trust that we once had in the power of an idea that just "felt" right has gone. We don’t seem to have the courage to back our instincts any more. What is creativity but instinct?

And with the advance of technology, platforms and data, the creative toy box has never been better-stocked. Almost anything we imagine, we can make. It’s a dream for people who love coming up with ideas and seeing them flourish into life.

Sadly, we somehow have let all of this, our over-intellectualisation and fear, stifle our thinking.

There was a brilliant quote from a blog by Dave Trott about how bad meals are made by chefs who slavishly follow the recipes to the letter. He says: "Stop counting the spoons and start cooking." How right he is. That sums up our industry at the moment.

So my next task is to work out how to encourage clients and the teams to regain their trust in creativity. We have all the evidence we need that the better the work, the better the result. So now we need to start believing in it.

Ian Haworth is the global chief creative officer at Rapp

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