CLOSE-UP: OPINION - Creatives must investigate different briefs if they are to expand their own roles

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



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