Forget the good old days. Creativity has never been better
A view from Paul Shearer

Forget the good old days. Creativity has never been better

Last week’s British Arrows Craft Awards, following last month’s Big Awards, marks the end of the awards season. Yet a new year of award shows are on the horizon.

After the prize-giving the other night, there was the usual talk about how today’s creative work is not as good as yesteryear’s. It’s the sort of thing you always hear.

To be honest, I used to say the same thing until recently. Now I think today’s work is pretty amazing considering the ways in which the business and the economy have changed.

When you truly look at what we have to do these days, it’s surprising we get anything out at all.

Just look at the obstacles and hoops creatives have to go through.

It starts with collaboration. I am a big fan of collaboration. It used to be a tool to help with the creative process. Now, more often that not, it’s a mandate for some people to push their own ideas.

There’s also a barrage of sophisticated testing and sales considerations to cope with.

The briefs are multilayered and not thought through.

I remember the days when a planner was the most important person in the process. Now they are hurried into getting a brief out in five minutes.

There are other obstacles. Less money for production. So we have to work way harder to achieve scale and beauty.

Social media has meant that the work is judged almost as soon as it is released. If your work doesn’t get instant success, it’s cut.

There are also fewer people to help. Cutbacks have forced agencies to slim down. And there’s the dreaded economy.

When business is bad, it usually means one thing for the creative. Sell, sell and sell. Forget the idea: hit the customer with the offer. Clients don’t want slow-burner brand work and they demand instant results.

It’s bad news for the creative, but the presence of these obstacles explains why today’s creative is pretty amazing.

"The world’s cheapest taxi rank" for Nissan and the John Lewis and Guardian ads are all examples of brilliant work done against the odds. Yes, they are all created by outstanding agencies, but against the backdrop of difficult times.

The point I am trying to make is that, if we stop for a minute, we realise what we are doing in such circumstances is bloody great.

I think we can work to improve and improve. The facts are there. We don’t work on a level playing field and the economy sucks.

There is no getting back to the freedoms of yesteryear but, considering the climate we work in, maybe the work is just as good as the good old days.

Paul Shearer is the creative partner at HMDG