CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE - THE CREATIVE-MEDIA DIVIDE. A new perspective on the creative-media schism

The younger generation in adland must bring media and creative back together.

At a time when integration is a mantra for success, two groups of people vital to communication, present and future, rarely ever even meet. Yet they have so much in common. The same professional raison d'etre to get noticed. A real enthusiasm for popular culture. A kind of tradesman's attitude to getting on with the job. In the good old days, creative and media people worked and played together. And not only was the work better - advertising was a lot more fun as a consequence.

Although we are both members of the IPA's "Project Jericho" team and employees of WPP, these are not in any way official views. Rather, they are the personal thoughts of two old hands who believe the creative/media divide will not be solved by institutions or organisations. Only an uprising of the younger generation of advertising people will force change. To the under-30s, we respectfully offer this manifesto for revolution.

1. Creative and media unite

Creative and media should play together. Do not accept a brief until you've met, got to know, got drunk with and had 20 brilliant ideas with your creative or media oppo. Refuse to put pen to paper and tell the account man you'll be sending them the expense claim.

2. Ideas not execution

This point centres on the great "media neutral" debate. Media neutral - a concept that we believe obscures rather than reveals the truth.

For media men, "media neutral" seems to mean they don't need to have a point of view or idea. They can place the media anywhere the econometric model tells them.

For creatives, "media neutral" means something quite different. They have to have an idea that can work in every media.

No wonder there's confusion about the meaning of "media neutral". It means the opposite thing to the two different camps.

However, in the multimedia world in which we now live, if you're a creative person and you obsess about execution rather than ideas, you're putting yourself at the wrong end of the food chain if you want to have a rewarding future.

Equally, if you are a media man, but don't have ideas that bring a distinctive, original and meaningful pattern to the way a brand reaches out to the consumer, you're just ticking boxes. And you'll probably be replaced by a computer.

3. Creative and media briefs unite

Media and creative briefs and strategy should be the same. If the team cannot agree on one line that serves as the launch pad for both creative and media ideas, you haven't got a big campaign thought.

4. Awards. Stimulation or masturbation?

The accepted practice of judging advertising in darkened rooms once a year, and totally ignoring the way in which media is really consumed, is counterproductive.

We will give a prize to the first awards ceremony that comes up with a system that judges advertising in real time in the real world.

Only then will we have a value system that celebrates and encourages media and creative working in harmony.

5. Think like punters

Think like punters. The really good news is that media has now got so complicated, it's got simple. The industry data is now becoming less of a support and less helpful. Consumers are using media we never even dreamt of (urinal advertising) in ways we couldn't have imagined (SMS texting).

Numbers will no longer do it. We need insight, we need to put ourselves in real people's shoes. So don't accept media jargon. Don't write ads to a statistical audience definition. Ask what kind of people we want to reach and what kind of thing we want them to do and then use your own brain and imagination to decide how and when to get to them.

6. Mind your media manners

We live in a world where almost anything is a medium. It's time creative people were encouraged and supported in creating work that reflects this.

However, don't go mad. It's important to respect and understand that the consumer does not always want to be doorstepped. Read Andrew Cracknell's seminal Campaign Essay on this subject (Campaign, 15 March 2002) and remember your manners.

7. Save clients from themselves

Clients are complicit. They often have themselves to blame for second-rate work.

Do not rely on clients to back up your need to work as a team. They'll pay lip service, but they won't pay cash. Worse, they'll try to set creative agencies against media companies to beat you down on fees, production costs, timelengths, space sizes and anything else they can screw a few quid out of. If you want to do the best work for your clients, creatives and media must work together and argue a case together - because together you are unbeatable.

8. Suits won't save you

"Suits", by which we mean management rather than just account men, are not going to lead us to the promised land - where media and creative live in perfect harmony.

Both creative and media agency management may talk enthusiastically about this issue, but deep down we are not sure of their real commitment.

One, there's too much short-term vested interest in keeping media and creative separate. No nasty sharing fees. And when the creative agency gets fired, guess what? - the media agency can walk away blameless. And vice versa.

Two, because a lot of the older folk in the business, frankly, wouldn't know a great creative/media idea if it jumped up and bit them on the nose. The younger generation, who instinctively understand the new media landscape because they experience and interact with it daily, are the ones who are going to lead the way.

9. Mis-spend your youth

It is absolutely legitimate use of your time to spend days watching Kilroy, Bargain Hunt, Today with Des and Mel, surfing The Office website, texting your mates and reading Kerrang!. This is during working hours. Outside working hours it is a professional necessity to go clubbing, abuse your body, your brain and your wallet. If you are not steeped in media and in popular culture you will be no good at your job.

10. Demand training

From now on, thanks to changes in the IPA's continuous development programme, it's not just going to be the suits and planners who get all the training budget.

One of the things we are working on is establishing courses for creatives and media people that will help heal the great divide. And the IPA is organising events to include media owners too.

So march down to your financial director's office and demand some training.

If he so much as raises a whimper tell him it's as much for the benefit of the company as for yourself that you learn new skills.

Mandy Pooler is the chief executive of The Channel at WPP and Robert Campbell is joint executive creative director at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. This article is based on a presentation by Pooler and Campbell (aka "the Richard and Judy of advertising") at the Campaign Creative Conference, held last week in London.


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