Advertising has forgotten the joy of making
A view from Wayne Deakin

Advertising has forgotten the joy of making

Thanks to layers upon layers of nonsense, the simple has become complex and we are moving further away from what we do best: making stuff....

I am so bored with stories about the end of our industry as we know it and the rise of management consultants. It’s all beginning to feel like a Star Wars plot – with us as the rebel forces against consultants from the superior mechanised Empire.

Consultants can continue to consult, for all I care. They can enjoy nodding in meetings and striking deals in search of that new-business model nirvana. I’m more interested in something that’s more beautiful and alluring. Something simple and authentic. The joy of actually making stuff.

Guess I’m naïve, but I didn’t get into our industry to consult. Did you? I love the act of making. I love what we do. We make stuff. Wonderful stuff. Exciting stuff. Even culture-changing and innovative stuff. Stuff that touches people’s feelings or moves them to direct action.

From rich stories that make you laugh or cry to beautiful experiences that move you to go jogging or get fit. The pride of creating something tangible is fantastic.

There’s an unpretentious joy in making. It’s also good for your soul. You can find yourself in a mental and spiritual zone where you lose track of time and get absorbed in a task – your mind happily flooded with thoughts related to accomplishing the work ahead. It’s only human to feel this way when we use and expand our skills.

An increasing number of social scientists confirm that creativity has a vital role in fruitful lives and successful societies. It’s also fundamental to building long-lasting trust in relationships.

The joy of making is the joy of self-expression, the joy of problem-solving, the joy of challenge and, most importantly, the joy of manifesting your vision and offering it to others to share.

I remember the first TV spot I ever made and the sense of satisfaction in sharing that with my mum, who didn’t have a clue what I did. 

Think back to when your mates couldn’t believe you had a part in something they had shared. Remember the joy of seeing an idea that was once a thought on a wall flourish to life in full HD glory. Remember a client having the faith in you to make something, then seeing them rewarded as your work grew their market share.

The joy of making is the joy of self-expression, the joy of problem-solving, the joy of challenge and, most importantly, the joy of manifesting your vision and offering it to others to share.

There’s a certain wonderment and elation in the art of making. A joy in finding like-minded people who trust your vision and work long and hard to help make it even better. It’s also where you witness the transformational power of ideas coming to life. Like beautiful wild things that emerge from curious places, ideas need nurturing and care. They crave love, trust and the right culture and talent.

And let’s not overlook the secret weapon of craft. Let’s not forget that craft is in the details that resonate with the audience, that create a sense of enduring quality and value, and that sink deep into your being.

Attention to craft can elevate even the greatest idea. On the other hand, cutting corners can ruin the same great idea and reduce its effectiveness.

It seems that we’re becoming ever-more divorced from the joy of making. There are layers upon layers of nonsense that make the simple complex. The distractions of targets and profitability can easily get in the way, if you let them.

Of course, they are essential, but remember to enjoy the journey and celebrate the joy of making. Don’t mask that from your clients in some great mystery – invite them to be part of the joy so they understand why craft is imperative and why tiny details make all the difference.

Making is a process that is as much about self-discovery, self-fulfillment and self-actualisation as the end result – one that strengthens bonds between client and agency, leader and team.

Sure, the shape of business models will shift and transform. Sure, some parts of our industry might shrink or be lost in the transformation journey. But the art of making is a powerful and future-proofing glue for both agency and client. The making process in its own right offers a competitive edge.

I am optimistic about the future. So long as we empower ideas and champion craft, we will remain an attractive destination for brilliant talent to make work that is interesting, trailblazing and relevant.

The joy of making should be something that’s celebrated and shared much more often, don’t you think?

Wayne Deakin is the executive creative director at AKQA.
@deakin_ahoy