This is a wake up call for creatives. The world has changed and it
is time you changed too. Timescales are getting shorter and hairier.
Budgets are being squeezed harder than lemons. Clients are demanding
greater creativity from their agencies, not just from the words and
pictures departments, but across the whole business.
There is no way back to the cosy comfort of yesterday. The only way to
survive is to think smarter - not harder. That means thinking
differently (which is what we're paid to do, remember?).
We need to seize ownership of clients' brands and their commercial
We can't sit back in our ivory towers waiting for the traditional brand
guardians to bring us the news. We've got to get out there and make it
Quite simply, this is all about making creative as important to the
client as account management and planning. That means you actually have
to spend time with the client - a lot of time.
It's about being inclusive not exclusive. Share the opportunities and
problems of the brand. Don't wait for someone else to sort it out while
you moan about the iniquities that are heaped upon unrecognised creative
genius. Earn the client's trust - don't demand it.
For too long, agencies have been happy to present creatives as some sort
of circus freak show. Wheel them out and they'll perform tricks for the
client - rattle the cage, see them jump. Aren't you sick of being
patronised and treated like children? It is time to use your creativity
to change that perception - stop jumping through hoops and start
thinking around them.
The agencies that will make a difference in the future are the ones that
realise the power of creative thought as part of the complete agency
offering, from the first briefing to the final solution. Most agencies
pay lip service to it, few really live and breathe it.
It is not just about added value, it's about fundamentals of
Forget disciplines and see where you can bring your thinking to bear for
the best results possible. Make friends with the planning and data
Great creativity is born of insight and insight comes from understanding
the brand issues, then tackling them from a different angle. You don't
get insights from gazing out over cloud-cuckoo land from the
battlements; you have to get your hands dirty.
Creatives have to mine those insights from the source - the client. It's
not about being an ersatz account manager, it's about being smart.
Look to entrepreneurs for inspiration - they are creative thinkers who
understand the business imperative. If we cannot think like they do, we
have no business being in our business.
Ideas, big ideas, are our currency. The challenge is to use them to
drive the industry forward. Broaden your remit. Create new space for
creative thinkers. Abandon your ivory tower and get out into the real
It'll make a lot of people uncomfortable, yourself included. But if you
set the agenda, you can change the world.
The founder of Mustard, Sam Smith, won this comment slot in Campaign in
the charity auction at WACL's Christmas Gala. She generously donated the
column to Ed Prichard and Kevin Scott, who are the creative partners of