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Assorted Nuts Podcast: "By and large the product’s shit" - Sir John Hegarty bemoans the falling standards of advertising creativity

“We have confused persuasion with promotion, Sir John Hegarty has claimed while bemoaning what he described as ‘shit’ advertising and called upon the UK industry to improve its output, in the first of The Drum’s podcast interviews featuring some of the UK’s best advertising creatives who will feature in the coffee book portraits within Assorted Nuts.

Sir John Hegarty's picture from Assorted Nuts by Julian Hanford

Hegarty spoke to The Drum’s editor at large, Dave Birss, and shared his views on the current state of the advertising industry, plainly expressing his disappointment at the current level of creative ideas being rolled out.

“If you look at the UK, we are suffering because we are not putting the time into the idea and there’s empirical evidence to say that the quality of our output has gone down. It’s not my opinion. Empirical evidence from the audience shows us that the quality of what we are making is going down,“ he stated. “I don’t know any other industry in the world that thinks the solution to this problem is to make a worse product. We have to look at what we’re producing and speed isn’t necessarily the answer. In the end, I want it right and we have to resist and there comes a member where we have to say ‘that’s how long it takes.’

Asked how to improve the quality, he added; “Make a better product. By and large the product’s shit. Why would I watch shit? People like good stuff, whether it is a TV programme or a movie or a good book or a TV ad. People like great stuff. Our industry has to realise that the quality of what it is making isn’t good enough. Make it better.”

He continued by blaming a reliance on technology as one reason for the declining quality of advertising.

“We’ve fallen in love with technology rather than technology being the slave of the idea. There’s a good way of thinking about this. Technology inspires creativity, creativity challenges technology - in doing that we have lost the ability to convince people. We have confused persuasion with promotion. Our industry is about persuasion. That’s fantastic as long as you do it with truth and persuasion, that’s the most fantastic thing in the world,” he added.

Hegarty also discussed his views on the changing office environment, his disbelief in the notion of media neutrality and the number of skills that creatives are expected to have in this day and age.

More on the Assorted Nuts project can be found at The Drum.

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Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze and producers Harvey Weinstein and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

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