Time for a new creative model?

By David Milligan-Croft | Creative Director / Strategist / Writer

June 24, 2010 | 4 min read

Bill Bernbach was so great, other brands used him in their advertising as a role model for ingenuity. Like this one for Apple.

Bill Bernbach

Bill Bernbach

Bernbach was the ‘B’ in Doyle, Dane, Bernbach, the agency which revolutionised advertising in 50’s and 60’s America. Traditionally, ads were conceived by writers in their offices then pushed under the doors of art directors to do the layout. DDB decided they might get better work if the copywriter and art director worked together. And thus, the ‘Third person’ was born.

If you’re not a creative, you might not get this bit, but something strange occurs when you work in teams. I’ve often been asked: “Yes, but which one of you actually came up with the idea?” And the truth was, neither of us. It was both of us. Or, the ‘third person’.

He says something, I say something, he says something else, I laugh. We talk about football. I say something, he looks out of the window. I blush. He says something, I say that’s rubbish to get my own back.

The point is the idea comes from you both. Without this creative ping-pong you don’t get the sort of lateral thinking you get when you work in solitude. (Of course, your partner has to be talented otherwise the exercise is pointless.)

Ambling slowly toward my point, (and I’m not sure how relevant this would be for the big London agencies), in the Provinces we tend to work more TTL than agencies in the big smoke, (and always have done). Obviously, these days, a TTL campaign invariably involves digital, online, social media, mobile etc, but rarely do traditional advertising creatives have the relevant technical expertise in the online theatre. (As Mark T so eloquently points out.)

So, is it time for a new creative model for integrated campaigns, one that includes an art director, writer and a developer?

Weiden & Kennedy in Amsterdam flirted with teams of three in the late 90’s, having the traditional AD / CW plus a graphic designer. The addition proved very effective in the work they produced for Nike.

I introduced something similar at an agency on the Wirral. Clients/workload demanded that the creative dept consisted of an equal number of graphic designers as there were web developers. So rather than the creatives disappearing for a couple of days to deposit a concept on the laptops of the developers, we would have brainstorms that opened the eyes of both parties to new ways of doing things.

We are at the epicenter of a media phenomenon. What we are experiencing is bigger than the introduction of the television. So, if our media canvases are being revolutionised, shouldn’t our model for painting on them be evolutionised?

Of course, the model would only be needed if it was a genuine TTL campaign. But might be worth a shot. You never know what might come out the other end.


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