Anyone can build a Website says Alun Howell, but sensible clients won’t
trust the global exposure of a product to technicians who lack valid
It’s obviously open season for creative bashing at the moment,
especially when it comes to ‘new media’.
On the one hand, we’re told that copywriters shouldn’t be let anywhere
near a Website (Campaign, Opinion, 10 May) and on the other we hear that
they’re showing no interest.
I can only speak for Ogilvy and Mather - although I know Howell Henry
Chaldecott Lury and Bartle Bogle Hegarty have done a considerable amount
of work - but creatives here have been working on everything from CD-
Roms and Websites to interactive TV programmes for quite some time.
Both award-winning ideas for Guinness, ‘screen-saver’ and ‘pull a pint’,
were concepts from the creative department that were realised by working
with multimedia production companies.
New media offers creatives enormous opportunities and time lengths as
long as you want. There is an extra dimension to play with, and those
who wish can write an unlimited amount of copy.
I believe that, as sites increase in number, the conceptual and
aesthetic talents of creatives will be paramount.
Take Guinness. There are numerous sites for the company on the Internet,
all created by Website ‘builders’. Only one, however, has created any
significant interest and that’s the one ‘created’ in our creative
department. On the strength of this site, Guinness awarded us another
Of course ‘anyone can build a Website’. Anyone can make a film too - but
you don’t see Tony Kaye worrying about Guinness giving the filming of
the next cinema ad to a couple of guys who do wedding videos. Or, for
that matter, Vogue handing over the editorial direction of its site to a
‘new media’ specialist, even one in a Chanel anorak.
No client in his right mind is going to hand over the global exposure of
his product to a group of technicians with no marketing experience. A
brand should be stewarded with care and attention irrespective of the
media it is in.
Art directors and copywriters are already the greatest exponents of
multimedia. After all, we work in more media than anybody else every
day, from film, print and radio to bus sides.
This doesn’t, of course, mean we work in isolation. We work together
with the most talented people in each discipline - photographers,
illustrators, directors, musicians and so on.
This collaboration is the most fruitful way to work and the best
multimedia companies seem to agree. We’ve met almost 100 ‘companies’ in
the last year, of which very few come close to providing the level of
expertise and talent we normally expect to be able to draw on.
We’re still undoubtedly working in uncharted waters. However, the more
able of these companies seem very excited about what we have to offer in
terms of solid concepts. We’ve found our working relationships are
similar to the ones we have with a TV production company.
It’s funny that the people who were saying that agencies shouldn’t place
their clients’ brands on other people’s sites, but rather, create their
own individual sites, are now the ones berating creatives for not taking
up the opportunity to advertise on their sites.
New-media people need to stop blaming the creatives and concentrate on
making the media more attractive. Five millimetre by six centimetre
strips, called banners - which seem to be the norm on sites - are a
little restrictive, even for the most creative minds.
If the Web is compared to a new landscape, as it often is, then
creatives will be the architects, not the builders. And we all know what
happens when builders design their own homes.
Alun Howell is a copywriter at Ogilvy and Mather