January 06, 2010

Conversation With A Creative Director

Recently I had lunch with a head creative guy at a successful agency who works on some very successful brands. I am not going to reveal his identity as his clients may be listening.

He had some interesting things to say.  I will be paraphrasing throughout.

First he said, aside from the paycheck, there are only two good reasons to work in advertising. First, to hang around with funny people. And second, to do cool stuff every once in a while.

Then he started lamenting. He said the funny people have either stopped being funny or have "moved to New Jersey." He said the young creative people he is working with are still motivated and talented, but take themselves way too seriously. They don't have a sense of the "absurdity of most of what we do."

But what's really bothering him is the work he's doing. He said that although his clients were all doing well and were satisfied with his agency, he felt that "I haven't done anything cool in years. My clients think an ad is a brief with pictures."

He lamented the quality of client people he is working with. "They may know the language of marketing, but they don't know what makes a good ad. Every time I try to put some spin on the ball, there are 10 of them trying to take the spin off."

In an era in which there is so much "marketing communication," you'd think clients would be starving for fresh ideas. This guy says no.

He says that they talk a good game, but when push comes to shove they all want advertising that looks and sounds like advertising.

What do you think?

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