OPINION: Blaming creatives does not send out an effective image

Losing business is not the fault of any one section of an agency, says Steve Grime, and attacking the creatives is not helping. It is time to unite to aid the industry.

Losing business is not the fault of any one section of an agency,

says Steve Grime, and attacking the creatives is not helping. It is time

to unite to aid the industry.

Graham Hinton may have had a particular creative person in mind when he

attacked the creative community (Campaign, 13 June). But that doesn’t

make his outburst any more acceptable.

Once again, creative people are being trussed up and paraded as

sacrificial lambs for the industry’s woes. Apparently, we live in a cosy

little world where everything is tasteful. ’We have concentrated too

hard on how clever we are and how creative we can be, and that is a

problem.’ No doubt, we’re also pampered, indulged and overpaid as


Why am I enraged by this? It smacks of a cheap shot. I could say that

all account management people are merely glorified double-glazing

salesmen, or that planners are just failed psychologists. But that’s

also patently untrue.

Attacking a vital part of any agency is lunacy. It sends a message to

clients that says we don’t actually believe in advertising. What other

conclusion can they draw when we rubbish the people who actually create


Outbursts like this only play into the hands of the consultants and

encourage clients to look outside the agency set-up.

At the moment, our main failing as an industry is that we have lost the

faith. Creative skills are hard to quantify, so their value to a brand

fluctuates between zero and lottery roll-over at any given time. I

suggest it’s time we convince clients that creative ideas mean


Jacques Seguela hit the nail on the head when he said: ’Money has no

ideas. Only ideas make money.’ And while I’m in quoting mood, Kevin

Roberts, the new head of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, also struck a

chord when he said: ’Marketing consultants have not had a creative idea

in ten years.’

And isn’t that why clients go to agencies? To get involved in a process

to produce a fantastic idea that will sell products and make everybody


As for the charge that creatives are living in some ivory tower

oblivious to the harsh business realities, I would suggest the reverse

is more accurate.

Too often, their job is to bridge the gap between the marketing-speak

and the man in the street. You don’t hear people at bus stops remark:

’Did you see that great strategy on the box last night?’

Not even the most brilliant marketing minds or coachloads of consultants

can create advertising by themselves. It’s the creative people who turn

this dry old stuff into gold dust.

That nice Gary Lineker turning nasty, or a fat man marching to the white

cliffs of Dover to see off the French, that’s what stays in the mind and

makes them buy Walkers or Blackcurrant Tango.

There are many other examples I could mention that touch, charm,

persuade and endear the brand to consumers.

These selling principles remain the same, even though they are being

applied in all kinds of new media. Creatives aren’t resistant to change,

they relish it.

And even the most inexperienced know what a limited budget is. A

student’s portfolio today is more likely to contain a great idea for the

back of a parking meter than a 90-second cinema commercial.

Contrary to some beliefs, it’s great ideas that excite creative people,

not great big budgets. Some of the ads that have recently won awards

cost less to produce than the trophies.

To talk about money going into the pockets of consultants because the

creative community has turned its back on business needs is utter


The real reason agencies are losing business is because senior industry

figures aren’t communicating with their creative people.

How ironic to be practising isolation while preaching integration.


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