Creatives And Selling

I recently heard an aspiring creative talking about some project or other, saying something along the lines of "I'm not bothered about selling, I leave that to someone else". This made feel a little bit sad. A little sad for that person, and for the ad business.

The ad business needs ad creatives to be wild, cynical, skeptical, anti and idealistic.

But it also needs them to embrace the fact that they are selling products and brands. That view is probably unfashionable these days, but I still think it's true.

It seems like the modern way is for someone else to work out all the hard stuff, then pass the brief to creatives, who then get creatidivv. Creadivvs then just worry about technique and creadivv stuff.

I think it's crazy for a business of selling that it's now filled with people who don't really see that as their job, or responsibility. I think it's sad for those creatives too - destined for a career of frustration and of self-questioning. 

Is it because the creatives don't care about or aren't interesting in the selling, or because the industry doesn't want them, or encourage them to care? I don't know. I think maybe a bit of both.

But ultimately the best advertising is done by creatives who embrace business problems head on, and solve them directly with their ideas. And the ad business itself is driven on by creatives who embrace the fact that they use their ideas, energy and wit to help their clients and build businesses. These are the people on who's shoulders advertising excellence has been build - and on who's shoulders the whole industry has been built. Bernbach, Ogilvy, Reeves, Abbott, Hegarty, Lois, Saatchi, Chiat, Ally, Rubicam and the rest.

A lot of people say that advertising isn't what it once was, or words to that effect. And I tend to agree in the main. The theories for why are usually to do with less daring clients, or the economy. But I think advertising probably needs to look inwards for the main reason.

Advertising is an industry built on great creative people who knew exactly what their creativity was for. I don't see that many any more.


  1. in my brief interactions with uk advertising (mostly via ddb london), i was a bit shocked at the timidity of not just the creatives but the account people. one thing you learn over here in the USA is not to be afraid of making a jackass of yourself in the pursuit of selling ideas.

    I felt like Robin Williams by comparison.

  2. Great post.

    I think I remember a scene in Mad Men when Pete Campbell was flustering over a print out of sales figures. He was getting vexed because one of their client's sales had dropped.

    Don't agencies still behave like that? Is it all softer measures today? Is that why we hear about a lot of hire and fire?

  3. I think a lot of timidity comes from from not wanting to 'offend' people. Unless you read Creative Review, they did an article about how being a little bit racist and confusing was the new paradigm for a successful advert.


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