‘I wonder if you could help me? When is your deadline?’ ‘Well, the final
one’s Wednesday, but only for the front four pages.’ ‘Oh. But I sent you
something on Tuesday.’ ‘It depends what page the story might go on.
Different sections have different deadlines.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Well,
by Wednesday only the front four pages are left; half the magazine is
actually finished by the Friday of the week before.’ ‘Oh. I never
A strange way to introduce a column about the joys of posters, perhaps,
but bear with me. The above conversation is, sadly, an almost daily
occurrence at Campaign and, I suspect, many other publications.
Now, it’s fair enough that most readers don’t understand how papers or
magazines work, but our readers are paid to know this type of
‘Ah,’ but they say (‘they’ usually being creatives), ‘it’s not my job to
know that sort of stuff,’ as if knowing it would be one piece of
knowledge too much for an already over-burdened brain.
It’s an attitude that clearly annoys the poster industry as well,
judging by presentations at last week’s fascinating Campaign
‘Postercraft’ seminar. The speakers were a little apprehensive
beforehand that the audience of creatives would find a discussion about
the logistics of posters - what happens between signing off the work at
an agency and seeing the finished poster up on a billboard - a little
dull. Subjects included what you can do with new types of ink to a run-
through of the various new formats that fall under the heading of
‘outdoor’, with examples of how each could be used.
If I were an advertising creative, I would have loved it. Basically,
they were given a two-hour tour of the possible applications the medium
has to offer, all of them awaiting good creative ideas. How better to
put yourself in a position to come up with these than to actually
understand the medium you are working in, and how it works?
So, to the final speaker last week, the much maligned Trevor Beattie.
‘Maligned’ I suspect because his work for the likes of Nissan, Wonderbra
and the National Canine Defence League is simplicity itself and makes
noise, something the British industry seems to find strangely
distasteful. Surely, in most cases, another description for ‘making
noise’ is ‘making the client’s budget go further’? Beattie listed some
of the most talked-about works of the past few years: Conservative Party
‘tax bombshell’, Benetton, Levi’s, Wonderbra, Club 18-30, to which you
could add Calvin Klein and Nike. Remove Levi’s, and they’re all
(largely) posters. Take out the question of whether you like the
individual works or not, and clearly they are created by people who
understand the medium, and keep it simple.
Knowledge is power. I’ve always wanted to say that.