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November 10, 2010 / davebirss

The Creative who was ashamed to be called a Creative

I was pretty excited when I started out in advertising.

Back then, being an Advertising Creative was still considered a pretty cool job. When you told people what you did, they would often respond that TV adverts were better than the programs themselves. They’d ask you what you were working on. They’d tell you that they were jealous because they didn’t get that much opportunity for creative thinking as a Quantity Surveyor. Those were good days.

In more recent years (before I retired from being a Creative) I was actually a bit embarrassed to tell people what I did. Part of that was because people’s reactions to my job title wasn’t quite as positive as it used to be. And the other part was my own opinion of the industry.

I think people reacted differently to my job in advertising because most of the time they still thought of it as TV, press and poster. And – to be bluntly honest – that stuff just doesn’t hold the same place in the heart of the consumer as it used to 20 years ago. And to be even more bluntly honest – I think that this kind of ‘traditional’ advertising has gone through a creative slump in recent years. All of which have led to people falling out of love with it.

The second half of my shame is because of what I had experienced inside the industry.

I think most of the industry has carried on in the hope that advertising would once again return to fashion like it was in the 80s. That people would once again want to watch those TV spots and chuckle over newspaper ads. But that can never happen when it’s failed to adapt to changes in the way people consume those media. And it’s ignored the changes in how people make purchasing decisions. The world moved on and advertising didn’t. And as somebody who’s supposed to fly the flag of creativity and innovative thinking – that’s a big problem.

Another drawback is that the job just isn’t as fun as it used to be. I’ve also developed personal issues with the egotism of the term ‘creative’ – but I’ll save those rants for another day.

Now don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about digital. Digital is not the saviour of the industry. The majority of digital work is still offensively self-obsessed and disregards the consumer in the same way.

This is about the public. This is about everyone who doesn’t work in marketing. This about the strangers we meet at dinner parties. And if we want to produce things that have a place in their heart, we have to work even harder to earn it.

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