Adland isn’t looking at creativity through a wide enough lens. Ex-adlander and creativity speaker, Craig Davis, believes the industry really needs to get involved from the get-go of product development and ideas from clients, rather than just starting at the advertising point.
“The advertising business often has a very narrow view of creativity,” he told B&T after his talk at the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings expo in Melbourne.
“What it is, what it isn’t, what matters, what doesn’t. I think there’s a risk in the industry in maintaining a narrow view of creativity because I think that, when it’s just confined to advertising no matter what form it takes, I think that’s running out of steam.
“That’s not a healthy buoyant space to be in from a business point of view.”
While admitting he is not as close to the specifics in the ad industry as he once was, having left two and a bit years ago, from a more general perspective Davis believes adland should have a wider view of creativity and be willing and interested in contributing to clients’ in a way that isn’t just advertising.
“For example, in terms of culture,” he explained. “In terms of maybe getting involved in product development and design. That’s easy to say, but they’ll go ‘well they won’t let us in’. One of the reasons they won’t let you in is because you want to sell them advertising. You’ve actually got to step back and go ‘we’re going to approach this with a different mentality’.”
Davis says creativity and innovation often starts at the very beginning of the product development, back with the company. However, advertising typically starts once the product has been finished, tested and is all good to go to market.
“So for agencies to get involved and make a contribution to that part of the process, you’re going to have to not only have a slightly broader view of what creativity is, you’re going to need to have a different process and be sensitive to things on the way through.”
There’s no doubt the world needs creativity and innovation and that clients are enthusiastic in finding people to help them with that, said Davis, “the question is whether agencies can do that”.
Campaigns also aren’t as important anymore, he believed.
“When I was in the advertising business, all the excitement was about developing campaigns and that’s where the creativity was focused, on coming up with campaigns,” he said.
“I don’t think campaigns are very important anymore, frankly. I think this is one of the reasons the industry is under tremendous pressure because I think that clients too don’t depend on campaigns for success in the same way that they used to.”
Companies being creative is more important, and this is one area where agencies can help their clients become more creative companies.
“For example, how companies treat their employees,” he said. “How companies treat their employees is a massive signal and demonstration of the nature of that company, which, even if people want to keep it a secret, is no longer a secret.”
Davis highlights coffee chain Starbucks and how the benefits it provides it employees and treats them is a massive signal of the company culture.