Feb 25, 2008

Creativity Is Relative

I’m convinced that one of the main stumbling blocks agencies have in regards to new media is that the best use of these media rarely involves anything we currently consider the domain of the creative department.

Most—like the Twitter example in the previous post--- are promotional in nature. (Unless you’re a Prom King brand™, you’ve got to do something to get people to engage with you, especially in a brand new medium.) And they rely on consumers or celebrities or other third parties to create them. They’re clever in a different way—they provide functionality for the consumer and give them something they can use or utilize, as opposed to traditional advertising which provides news for the consumer in an entertaining manner.

Faced with this unfamiliar paradigm, traditional agencies are shying away, since they have no way of judging whether this is “good” or not, no way of gauging whether they’re doing it “better” than anyone else.

Which is the wrong way to look at it. Right now, the main thing is to be doing it before anyone else and doing it right, which is in fact, very creative. As users become familiar with the media and the novelty wears off, traditional creativity will indeed become a factor. But right now, it’s all about being the first one to get people to actually engage with the technology in a way that actually provides value.


Anonymous said...

that's an excellent point. i've never twittered. or tweeted for that matter. but increasingly i get the unsettling feeling that, yea veritably, the geeks shall inherit the earth.

great example. and excuse me if i've used it here before. i was recently at a commuter rail station, whipped out my iphone, and was asked if i'd like to join the jetblue free wifi thingy. this was easily the smartest and most impactful piece of marketing communications i'd encountered in ages.

but it's the kind of thing agencies would discount for a myriad of reasons. it doesn't sound cool...etc.

but it made a connection with jetblue that no poster, tv ad could ever make. jetblue were suddenly my best friend.

Anonymous said...

Value. Now there's a concept worth considering.

Excellent analysis. May it get spread far and wide... rapidly.

Jonathan Trenn said...

To toad's sixth reader...a suggestion...don't consider those who practice social media as being "geeks". Most of "them" aren't geeks. Shuffling them off in a technological category means you end up isolating yourself. No need to.

You can start here.

Mario Vellandi said...

Indeed, in the absence of traditional metrics and analysis methods, subjective assessments and new ways of doing things appear quite risky. Yet in times of change, pioneers who venture (even with moderate to low expectations and budgets) stand to gain a lot. Even in failure, one can learn how to improve; and if not, at least the experience had been borne.

Anonymous said...

"but it's the kind of thing agencies would discount for a myriad of reasons. it doesn't sound cool...etc."

ditto what tsr said.

I've been in several meetings (granted, at BDAs) where ideas that provide something practical and useful are scoffed at becasue they aren't also slathered in some conceptual Subserviant Chicken-wannabe element. Unfortunately, I'd say most agencies are so desperate to make a big splash to show how "new media savvy" they are, the act of providing something that is both simple and useful for clients' customers is the last thing on their minds. Further proving they just don't get it, of course. But until more clients begin calling them out on it, I wouldn't expect things to change too much.

Anonymous said...

This makes me think about conversations I've had with my team...about how there are "big idea" conceptual solutions, to be sure, but there's a unique-to-interactive in a "bottom-up" ideation method that starts with asking...what can I do for the consumer/end-user?

But it feels like it's a subversive thought to be a creative and talk about how tactics or executional elements can sometimes drive a real solution.

Another surprise for me, the more I work with BDA's, is how often the creative groups at said BDA's give up ownership of pure ideas. Sure, they'll own the :30 script, but they pawn off ideating a pure concept to their planning or account group. "My job is coming up with a script, not writing concept boards" is how I heard one traditional CD put it.

THAT's something I just don't understand. That's the opportunity the interactive creatives jump on.

Is that a common thing among traditional agencies?

Anonymous said...


thought it was apparent that i was attempting very slight biblical wordplay. ie, it was an attempt at humor and not intended as a dated generalization.

but it would foolish to deny that there aren't fundamental differences between the tv creatives and the internet peeps. i've partied with google people. i know.

ps: your link doesn't work.