This blog is about the persona and identity a person takes on if they are to call themselves ‘creative’. Within the advertising business (which I occupy, don’t throw stones), the idea people are actually labeled as ‘creatives’. Those who manage the client relationships and write up the strategies are ‘Account Executives’ (AE’s). These two personalities clash often, mostly for sport.
The above pictures illustrate how you might recognize one or the other if they end up behind you in the checkout line. In the first picture, snapped for an employee ID on my first day at work, I could easily have taken the elevator up to the 11th floor and fit in just fine with all the AE’s, lookin’ like I did all scrubbed and happy to be there.
Now look at the second picture. It was taken two summers later when I had my drivers license renewed. That is called ‘Dressing for Success’. I am serious. In both pictures I felt like my essence at the time was captured. But who would trust the first guy to have come up with a brilliant idea?
The creatives are paid to be a bit loose, to find a new idea that walks that line between unexpected and comfortable. Rosser Reeves, a grand old icon in advertising circles, stated:
The most dangerous thing you can do is safe advertising.
Creatives are pressed to concept an idea that both stands out and is ‘on strategy’. And yet the AE’s were compelled to like the ideas that weren’t too ‘out there’. So they preferred the safe route. As my copywriter brother-in-law says: Everyone gets out their file and pretty soon the ad is round, with no edges.
Now the great irony at work was that when I was earning my paycheck the most was when I was staring off, concentrating. Appearing to the AE’s that we didn’t work as hard as they did. When ‘caught’ brainstorming I would share this truth:
Advertising is a lot like Disneyland, only with pressure.
In this very vein, I’ll share something I saw on a DVD of my nephew’s containing Pixar shorts. In the ‘extras’, John Lasseter, the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney, described a funny moment from when he was working on ‘Red’s Dream’. John was animating the movement a price tag makes as it dangles, in this case from a lonely red unicycle.
John was at his desk with a tag in his hand, intently studying its distinctive way of bobbling around when a business manager shows up with a client and interrupts:
‘Uh, John?… Are you,.. busy?’
That’s what I’m talking about.