Art versus science riles clashing creative directors

Art versus science riles clashing creative directors

Tribal’s Darwin Tomlinson and Clemenger’s Paul Nagy locked horns last night over the role of science and technology in creativity at the most recent instalment of the Australian Planners Group Insight Series in Sydney last night.

David Hovenden
Posted by David Hovenden

Speaking on a panel of four under the topic of ‘Creative Directors on Unexpected Thinking From Planners’, the creative bosses of Tribal and Clemenger Sydney congenially argued over where creativity resides and who was responsible for it.

“Science is really the new creativity. It can be sometimes a bit of a hard pill to swallow for people with the word ‘creative’ in their title. But I really thought about that and I realised that a lot of the great ideas that I’ve ever been a part of making actually came from people who were technologists. Not creative people and frankly not planners . . . and I think that’s just the power of where an idea or an insight comes from,” said Tomlinson.

“If science is the new creativity and I think you can look at people like Malcolm Gladwell as a great example of that, people who are now influencing our culture are not necessarily the people with ‘creative’ in their title. I would put strategy into the bucket of science . . .

“My point is that it’s about collaboration and not to be afraid to break down the traditional structures of an agency. The places that still work along the model of a strategist providing an insight then the creative department taking it away and making something from it is an antiquated and fucked up model.”

Strategists shouldn’t be afraid to have ideas and equally and obviously technologists shouldn’t be afraid to have ideas, argued Tomlinson. To illustrate his point, Tomlinson pointed to the work of his new agency Tribal, which he didn’t work on, but said that while the insight for the campaign was questionable, the work was so strong that the weak insight didn’t matter. And this… However Clemenger Sydney’s executive creative director took exception to Tomlinson’s attribution of creativity to science. “I’ve got a real bug up my arse about this idea of technology and ideas and where the goal posts are there. Personally, I don’t think science is ever going to be a good idea in any way shape or form,” countered Nagy.

“Those ideas that Darwin showed are in my opinion are incredible ideas and blow me away kind of ideas . . . but they saw an idea behind the technology. It’s an idea. “There was a little while when judges across the world were giving awards to technology and technology alone, but I think that’s past and I hope we can get back to ideas.”

In other advice for the forty odd planners in the room Nagy reinforced that planners were part of the creative process and needed to come up with good ideas. “If you don’t come into work every day and think about doing something a little bit unexpected and something a little bit different, then you’re in the wrong industry. The flip side to unexpected thinking is expected thinking. We all know as humans that expected is fucking boring,” said Paul Nagy.

Nagy also said that collaboration cannot be forced. “Who’s responsible for collaboration? You can’t force it. Yes you should do what you can to make an environment to promote collaboration, but every good working relationship I’ve had has been based on chemistry. Chemistry drives collaboration . . . and culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

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