CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/CREATIVE ADVERTISING - Some creative brilliance is overshadowed by meeting tips, Paul Briginshaw says

I wish there was a book on how to review books on "How to be creative". It would make this easier.

What we have in Mario Pricken's Creative Advertising, published on 22 April, is a well intentioned teach-in on the methods and techniques used in producing great advertising ideas.

"This is a handbook for brilliant ideas

Mario says. Yee ha! All I need to do is buy up all the copies in print and thus deny Flintham and McLeod, Brazier and Worthington, Nick Bell, Vince Squibb and everyone else the chance to get their hands on this alchemist's formula. Ha! I have won.

Sadly, it goes on to talk about Idea Engineering. My heart sinks, I don't think I'll be calling Zwemmers just yet.

Next we're into a section about meetings headed "Dream Team, a basis for every meeting". Sorry but I don't believe any great campaign has ever come out of ten people sitting in a meeting trying to produce an inspired piece of creative work.

By the time I've got to the section headed "A practical guide to joke making: constructing and disrupting frames of reference", my heart has sunk further than Leicester City. (By the way there is no mention of the use of football analogies in advertising discussions, you could definitely write a couple of chapters on that.)

There are also some blindingly obvious pieces of advice. "Stories can be told in an effective way without using words.

No, really, you mean with pictures? And a recurring phrase "Creating a positive 'Aha' experience" that sounds a bit Alan Partridge to me.

The book does contain some very good ads which are well dissected and analysed and it details the different creative tools we use. There is some good stuff about ideas being fragile and needing protection and how to rebuff negative thinkers (oops, is that me?) but often this is masked by some impenetrable passages. Try to unravel the section on Visual Synetics.

I can't.

A lot of effort has gone into this project and I think it will help give some a better understanding of creative work. (The interviews at the back are worth a read.) Personally, I would have stressed the importance of having fewer and shorter meetings and to discard systems for how to be more creative.

I'd tell people that they're more likely to have an idea by getting out of the office and off the layout pad. To look at the world and get some new stuff in their eyeballs, to observe, to throw away the rule book.

Funnily enough one truth about doing great ads is in the caption for the very first ad (the excellent fishing float in the lid of the John West can): "... great ideas come from direct engagement with the product. The solution to the task is already there in the product ..."

Easier said than done.


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