CLOSE-UP PERSPECTIVE: Creatives without an account team? Pull the other one

The greatest modern art form is surely the televised put-down. David Letterman crushing a heckler with, ’What exactly is on your mind ... if you’ll excuse the exaggeration?’ Or Mrs Merton asking Debbie McGee: ’What was it that first attracted you to the short, balding, middle-aged millionaire, Paul Daniels?’

The greatest modern art form is surely the televised put-down.

David Letterman crushing a heckler with, ’What exactly is on your

mind ... if you’ll excuse the exaggeration?’ Or Mrs Merton asking Debbie

McGee: ’What was it that first attracted you to the short, balding,

middle-aged millionaire, Paul Daniels?’



Last week, Steve Hooper and Martin Galton, a pair of senior Bartle Bogle

Hegarty creatives, gallantly agreed to fly the flag for the printed

put-down. In fact, they win a Campaign silver middle finger award for

their comments in last week’s issue.



On opening their own shop, a cross between an advertising agency and a

production company, Galton said: ’There seems to be a trend towards

clients wanting to have direct access to the creatives who actually do

the job ... As a creative, it has become very hard to have any fun in a

large agency. We think that by not having any account people we can be

sharp and lean but also have a bit of fun.’



Ignoring the gossip - which is that Hooper and Galton are out of BBH

over Bruce Crouch’s recent elevation to executive creative director -

there seems to be more than an implied swipe at BBH in the no-suits

approach. It’s as if they’re perpetuating the image of account people as

empty suits, more interested in kissing clients’ arses than doing good

advertising. My quarrel with this is that, if ever clients felt their

needs were being clearly communicated to creative people, then surely

it’s at BBH.



However, it’s also true that it is hard to think of a business that has

responded with less imagination than advertising to the challenges of

today’s changing economy. Maybe a handful of reckless visionaries dared

to tweak the 15 per cent commission system a couple of decades ago, but

the essential organisational and financial concept of an ad agency is

the same as it was a century ago.



All available brainpower still goes into ads and commercials while the

structures of the agency organisation itself lie bereft of even the

lightest touch of imaginative thinking.



So is the no-suits approach one that could genuinely leverage the

quality of the creative product? In order for the approach to hold

water, it is important that the creatives are all-rounders who can wear

an account handler’s/planner’s hat at all times. Do these creatives

actually exist?



But to say you can do away with account handling - either the department

or the personal skill - strikes me as immature and unworkable. In fact,

I could far sooner see ad agencies shedding fully fledged creative

departments, like the Hollywood studios did, and recruiting freelance

talent. How’s that for a put-down?



Have your say in CampaignLive’s Forum on channel 4 at

www.campaignlive.com.



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