Apparently, there's a new trend in the advertising industry. I sadly missed it, but some people claim that the top creatives are getting bored.
Now, I am not sure what exactly they are getting bored of, but I have a hunch. If I weren't belle de jour anymore, I'd probably also be annoyed and likely to blame everyone else for it: "oh, my job consists of too many meetings. This is no fun," "clients are 'know-it-all' assholes" and/or "people don't talk about my campaigns anymore." Absolutely heartbreaking, and I would be willing to shed a tear in that name, if I actually didn't know quite a few traditional ad creatives. Interesting breed. One told me a few months back that he'd love to go to Davos. Like, why? You make ads, my friend, and your only link to the world's economic imbalance is that you get 500K for it.
So when a dissatisfied traditional ad creative leaves their mother ship to create their own "incubator of breakthrough commercial ideas," I can't help but think that this 'new' trend in fact is masking something else. Because, when was the last time that a breakthrough commercial idea - the one that truly transcends the format of the medium - came from a traditional ad creative? Was it 2006? Was it 1993? A few days ago, I couldn't remember a single campaign of note. Instead, I could remember a lot of smart marketing ideas.
What it is masking is the fact that traditional advertising creativity has largely been marginalized. The "kick-ass" creative director and what he/she does is no longer culturally relevant as it used to be. Today's creativity is way more collective, iterative, and yes, humble. To deliver it, creatives got to move away from "I have an idea, and it's brilliant" MO: the artistry today is in creating environments where collective creativity can flourish.
Are the spin-off boutiques bearing the names of their founders such environments? Hardly. They, despite their fashionable mission statements, to the large extent replicate whatever David Droga or Gerry Graf have been doing all their careers and what they know how to do well.
It takes more than creating your own shop to catch up with creativity circa 2010. "For the unhappy creative mind still toiling in a big agency," Ad Age writes, "There are two choices: You can either, in Freudian terms, sublimate that ego or, in Lebronian lingo, you can take your talents elsewhere." Or - here's a crazy idea - you can realize that your creative talents need some serious updating. To be fair, there are notable exceptions: Edward Boches, an avid student by his own admission, did not decamp to create his own shop. Successfully, he is turning Mullen around from inside-out.
As for others: rather than being misunderstood geniuses unappreciated in their time, traditional creatives resemble more divas well past their prime. When they complain they are not having fun, I think: that's too bad. Because, the rest of us are having a ball.
Image credit: "This painting is not available in your country" Paul Mutant, 2010. Acrylic on canvas 12" x 10"