CAMPAIGN CRAFT: COLUMN; Radio must raise the standard of creativity in ads

Are creatives nice people to do business with?

Are creatives nice people to do business with?

I remember, when I was a child, being given a hard time for using the

word ‘nice’. The word ‘nice’ was apparently sloppy and imprecise - an

exhausted word that had been beaten senseless by years of careless


After ten years in advertising, I have similar feelings about the use of

the word ‘creative’. Agencies that are creative (adjective), employ

creatives (proper noun) to create (verb) creativity (noun), which is

then rated as being more or less creative. For a humble adjective, the

word ‘creative’ certainly gets around.

Speaking at a recent radio conference, I accidentally let the ‘c’ word

slip out and cringed as I heard a titter run round the room. People

outside advertising don’t see themselves as creatives. Instead, they are

writers and producers with ‘skills’ and ‘talents’.

Creativity doesn’t work like that. It is far more mysterious and, as

such, can only be truly understood by advertising people. Surely,

creativity’s finest hour will come when the radio industry sets up an

awards scheme that is ‘by creatives, for creatives’. It would be

official recognition that no-one else is sufficiently creative to judge

its ads.

That this conceit is ultimately damaging has been demonstrated by recent

events. Most radio ads are cringingly amateurish. But is this

surprising? For years, advertising has been dominated by the visual

media, and agencies have been staffed accordingly. What has been

surprising is radio’s response to the skills shortage. Anywhere else,

you could have expected a rush of training courses and pages of job ads.

But in advertising you don’t need training, you’re creative and all you

need is the will to make it happen.

So radio offers awards and begs agencies to ‘take it seriously’. The

Radio Advertising Bureau has enticed Tony Kaye into radio production,

which will, presumably, make creatives feel sexy about radio. But will

it make them any good? To talk up advertising as being arty and obscure

inevitably frustrates copywriters and alienates clients. Advertising may

occasionally throw up artists like Kaye, but that doesn’t mean it is


We are in the business to sell a product and that product should be sold

using skills, not magic tricks.

I’d like to see some serious money being put behind training. Awards may

be fun, but sitting in a studio hearing a good script come to life - now

that’s really nice.

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