Creative Director’s Choice: Circus Maximus' Kutscher on how Netflix's Bright ushers in a new creative process

Ryan Kutscher, founder and ECD of Circus Maximus

Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the current work they think is the best out in the ad world – the ads and campaigns they believe are making a difference.

This week, Ryan Kutscher, founder and executive creative director of Circus Maximus, discusses how Netflix’s new film, Bright, is changing the creative process.

The most interesting ad I've seen lately is the movie Bright. What I like about it is that it's not an ad for a product as much as it's an ad for a process. Let's call it the new creative process – one that's changing the way Hollywood operates, with clear implications for the way we will do things in the ad business once we get our heads out of our asses.

Bright is a campaign for the idea that creative application of analytics, nuanced storytelling, and a hands-off approach to creative execution results in something terrific and successful, if a bit confounding to critics. It’s a victory for how professional creativity can work in the age of analytics to combine these insights and inputs into a cohesive and successful narrative, and it leans every bit as much on expert creative execution on the back end as it does analytical input on the front end.

This isn't about whether Bright as a movie is any good (it is). It's more of an appreciation for the process by which Bright got made and the implications therein for the future of how we make ‘ads.’

One of the gripes about Bright is that it feels like it's assembled by an algorithm, but actually that’s what makes it good. Bright is the classic Hollywood creative formula at work: take one input that's familiar then add a wrinkle. Bright is Lord of the Rings meets Alien Nation. And really, that's the formula at the heart of what creativity is – new combinations of existing concepts.

Bright is a clinic in how exploiting one piece of content can appeal differently to different viewers. The Netflix algorithm matched themes like fantasy, magic, racism/acceptance, action and immigration specifically to viewers that would find them most appealing. The movie weaves all those themes together really well, thanks to a hands-off approach to giving the director very un-studio-like creative freedom to make the movie he wanted to make.

It's fun, it's kind of weird, it's silly, it's funny, it's serious, it explores politically and socially relevant ideas and it's rated R – good luck getting an R-rated movie at scale with the studio system. It can also be appreciated for what it isn't – a blatant one-size-fits-all watered-down money grab that it fails to take any risks, and serves up something palatable to all and interesting to none.

The result is a loud, and what should be frightening announcement that Netflix can take creative risks and market them better than the studios can. If you look at Rotten Tomatoes, you'll see critics hate it almost as much as fans love it. Why? Fans liked what Netflix knew they would like about it. Divisiveness is hallmark of a risky creative endeavor. It's fucking great. Someone in advertising will crack this code. I hope it's me.

Ryan Kutscher is founder and executive creative director at New York agency Circus Maximus.

View the Bright trailer and promotions by clicking the Creative Works box below.

To see the latest creative ads and campaigns, visit The Drum’s Creative Works section. If you or your creative director would like to be featured in our Creative Director’s Choice, please contact Kyle O’Brien at kyle.obrien@thedrum.com.

Netflix: Bright

Added 04 January 2018
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