You can sniff a degree of nervousness on the industry air today. A new Executive Creative Directors Council is being launched down at the IPA. The beer’s chilling, the nibbles are on order. But will anyone actually turn up? Creatives aren’t good at turning up.
This time they must. ECDC might sound like a paunchy rabble of saggy rockers, but if it’s true to the vision of its instigator – DLKW Lowe’s Dave Henderson – then it will bring together the talents of the most important people in our business: creatives.
I’m taking a purist’s view of the term "creative" here: the proper creatives, with proven creative credentials, working in creative departments on creative ideas and executions. They’re a powerful bunch. As Henderson says: "Remember, this group of people have arguably the greatest influence on the content of almost £14 billion of advertising in the UK alone and help shape the future of many of the world’s foremost brands."
There are many, many important reasons (14 billion of them for starters) why advertising creatives need to find their collective voice. Here are some:
Because if you take creativity out of the industry conversation, you’re too often left with a lot of people focusing on functionals such as tools and price. And what we’re really here to do – find transformative creative ideas that grow businesses – gets buried under the weight of hollow processes and structures.
Without a creative contingent, almost every gathering of the great and good looks like a convention of accountants
Because if creatives don’t engage with the key industry forums, they’ll never have a proper hand in shaping the business for the better. And where creatives have a hand, things are mostly better. At every debate about the state and future of our industry, the creative people who drive it need to have an invested view.
Because if creatives talk to each other more, they will surely find common experiences, frustrations and joys that will facilitate new learnings and a positive camaraderie. As Henderson himself admits:
"Despite being surrounded by people all day, this can often be a quite lonely job with very unique pressures."
Because without a creative contingent, almost every gathering of the great and good from our exhilarating, punchy, sometimes sexy creative industry looks and feels like a convention of shapeless accountants.
We need to be better at shaping ourselves as a creative industry, with an engaged creative voice. Yes, we need to prove the effectiveness and efficiency of what we do, but with creative magic beating at the heart of it all. We need to be an industry led by creative magic. ECDC is an important step. I hope at tonight’s launch all the beer gets drunk, all the nibbles nibbled and creatives start to take some real ownership of their industry.