Old problems, new solutions

How do you like the new Campaign mini ?

I think it looks great. Punchy, business-like. But it needs to keep what Claire did so brilliantly to help this ever-lovin’ ever-changin’ industry. I.e., 3 or 4 pieces each week by industry experts, talking about how things are changing around digital.

There were always great articles, every week. I didn’t always read them of course – life’s too short and my diary looks like it was written by a lunatic. But I’d keep each issue for 4 weeks while I felt guilty about not reading them.

And even if I just read the first two paragraphs and the last one, I learnt something.

On the negative side,  I was a bit worried to see “Turkey of the Week” suddenly pop up on page 3.

It would be fine if it pointed out the really shitty ads, the 95% of ads which are bland and boring and as risk-averse as a pensioner with a bad hip on an icy pavement carrying a tray full of throwing knives and red ants.

But I worry that it’ll take cheap pops at stuff which is pushing the boundaries.

Remember what Mark Zuckerberg said – “What would you do if you couldn’t fail ?” That’s the head-set any creative industry needs.

It needs the support you give a child – not the lampooning you give your peers over a pint.

It doesn’t need a blame culture – particularly one where creatives and risk-takers take most of the blame.

The industry has one big problem now.

It doesn’t celebrate creativity enough.

Martin Boase once described BMP, one of the greatest agencies of all time, as being structured “to protect the creatives”.

I get an image in my head of John Webster laying golden eggs high in a tower overlooking Paddington basin, and occasionally letting his hair down, to mix up various fairy stories, kids’ books and household items.

Webbo wrote a few turkeys along the way, but I doubt that they killed any brands.

These days, with a prototyping and always-beta culture, we should be encouraging experimentation – for its own sake.

If you’re going to blame creatives, blame those few middle weights who don’t want to change – as Jesus said of the poor, they will always be with us – but the IPA should do something about them.

(The creatives, I mean, not the poor. I don’t think 44 Belgrave Square is particularly well-placed to be a soup kitchen.)

You could re-train them as traffic wardens.

But generally the industry is terrible at cherishing its most valuable asset – its creative thinkers.

I was very interested to read in Metro this week some more about the IPA Creative Pioneers initiative.

This is a brilliant idea – encouraging fresh thinking, putting creativity at the heart, etc. But we need more. If we think we’re going to get up to speed with all things digital by employing a couple of savvy interns … Well …

What about the vast majority of people inside all agencies who just need a bit of support ?

That’s the point of Decoded, which I set up  with some bright friends. To help not just creatives – but everybody in this creative industry – to realise the art of the possible, by learning the basics of code.

The ad industry is already full of very intelligent people – we don’t need to put them on the crap-heap because they don’t understand how to make the most of the transformed world the industry is now working in.

We just need to train them.

It’s a bit like that theory about focusing your marketing on appealing to existing customers rather than chasing new ones – it’s generally cheaper and more effective. But the ad industry is hooked on the macho shit of “winning” new customers. And it’s also hooked on the macho shit of turfing out its existing talent base and hiring newbies.

But that’s wrong.

It’s time to take the amazing talent in our industry – and support it.

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