Powerful reminders of why greatness is worth a fight
A view from Claire Beale

Powerful reminders of why greatness is worth a fight

When the director Ringan Ledwidge stood up at a Now event last week and talked about the need (the absolute requirement, even) to fight (literally, perhaps) for great ideas, he hardly had to convince his creative agency audience.

You don’t work in advertising and not believe that great work, really brilliant work, is what makes all the rubbish bits about the job and the industry worth it. And worth the odd dirty scrap, when petty thinking gets in the way.

Ledwidge gave his talk a big bunk-up by showing a fabulous montage of some of the best, and best-loved, movie clips – with live orchestral accompaniment – before he even said a word. Adland likes to think it plays in the same sandpit as Hollywood. And you know what, it often does (I’ll come to Jake Scott later). Show great film on a big screen in front of a live audience (primed with alcohol) and it’s a viscerally powerful experience that hits you right in the gut and spreads from there.

Seeing great film on a big screen is a viscerally powerful experience that hits you in the gut and spreads from there

So I was swooning even before Ledwidge made his delightfully rambling call to creative arms. As an aside, do marketers ever feel like this when they are shown great work? Do they get turned on by the sheer thrill of an amazing idea, perfectly captured and then alchemically executed? That’s why clients need agencies.

All that talk of fighting for creative brilliance reminded me of a session at the IPA recently where Adam & Eve/DDB’s James Murphy and John Lewis’ Craig Inglis talked about their relationship and how they make it work. Inglis mentioned there had been a dust-up over the soundtrack for the forthcoming Christmas campaign. Everyone’s ears pricked up at this: agency and client at loggerheads over such a vital element of the campaign. Except that it turned out the fight had been between people at A&E/DDB, an internal battle over the right track. What client wouldn’t want their agency to fight for what they believed to be the very best solution? Even better if they are fighting each other.

Anyway, I arrived at Ledwidge’s talk hot from JWT, where I had been revelling in Jonathan Glazer’s phenomenal new work for Canon (see Opinion, page 21), and slipped from there to settle down with this week’s feature on Jake Scott and some happy minutes watching some of his work. I could watch and watch his "the gentleman’s wager" by Anomaly for Johnnie Walker Blue. All in all, it was a few hours of balm applied to the throb of programmatic trading, big data, integration, social media and so on: all vital pivots on which the industry is now turning, but sometimes it’s nice to just look at a great piece of film that makes you go all gooey and warm. It’s good that some things never change, and are still worth fighting for.

claire.beale@haymarket.com    @clairebeale