Collet Dickenson Pearce President's Lecture

We popped over to the D&AD president's lecture last night.

The blurb: "Tony Brignull, Sir Frank Lowe, Sir Alan Parker, John Salmon and Alan Waldie answer your questions on one of the most important UK advertising agencies of the twentieth century. Chaired by Anthony Simonds-Gooding, D&AD Chairman and one-time client of CDP"

Following-up from our post the other day about selling, It was heartening for us to hear these genuine ad legends, who are revered by today's creative heavy-hitters, say that they were in the business of persuasion, of trying to get people to buy the products they were selling.

The tendency is for creatives today to look at the work CDP produced in a misty-eyed way, as some kind of creative ideal world where crazy ideas and elaborate production were celebrated.

But the reality is that they set out to simply find the best ways of selling the products they were advertising, not to just create interesting entertainment or creative stuff in their own right.

I can't help thinking that if more of todays creative people started with that aim more firmly in mind, we would see better and more interesting advertising.

There seems to be a general feeling that selling is at the opposite end of the scale as creativity, that you do either one or the other. But I firmly believe that the opposite is true.

The work we see winning advertising awards these days mostly isn't really advertising at all. It's just vaguely-related entertainment with a product shoe-horned in at the end in the least obtrusive way possible. And whether we like it or not, by awarding this work, we're showing it as an example of the best of our industry and encouraging the new generation to work in this way too. If we teach young creatives that creative awards are important, and then show them that this is the way to get awards, then who can blame them for continuing the cycle?

When I meet young creatives these days, often they make no connection between what they do and the sales or success of the product.

It seems bananas that a whole generation of ad people don't really get why the business actually exists in the first place.

That the only point of creativity in advertising is to help make the client's advertising more effective.

Or more persuasive, as the gents from CDP might put it.

Anyway here's an old Heineken ad. It refreshes the parts other beers can't reach donchaknow?


  1. One of the things I found most interesting about the lecture was the way they worked in their day. Nothing left the agency until it had been approved by group head, creative director and then frank Lowe. If it wasn't good enough it didn't leave the building, and even then they only presented one idea. The one they felt was the best option to create sales for the brand. And because the client was paying so much for this talented group of people to sell their product they trusted them. They were the client, they didn't expect to be asked to choose the best option, that's what the agency was paid for. And then, once they had an ad, they also didn't wait for six months until every ounce of creativity had been researched and focus tested out of it.
    How refreshing it would be to get back to a situation where the professionals are trusted and listened to, rather than offer a selection of routes to a room full of people who have only turned up for £50 and a plate of free sandwiches.

  2. true, but you're forgetting the 100 ads you had to draw up for the 1 to be picked by the creative director.

    they were big on show your workings...

  3. That's the way to get good work though isn't it Mr Legs, keep discarding the stuff that's not up to scratch until you get to something that is?

    That means buying time to do it though of course, doesn't it?

  4. I don't think I was forgetting the hundred ideas I sweated over. A little part of me dies inside each time one of them is rejected. But that's just life. I'm just saying I would rather my work be rejected or chosen by a creative director or client with balls than a focus group full of people who all think they could do a better job themselves and spend an hour and a half telling the adjudicator how.
    I just want to live in a perfect world dammit. Is that too much to ask?


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