Creativity is dope. Advertising is dope. Deal with it

Matthew Charlton is the CEO of Brothers and Sisters. He was a founder of BETC London, has run agencies in London, Amsterdam and the US and has worked on brands including Johnnie Walker, PlayStation and Sony Ericsson.

Has advertising got stuck in some kind negative feedback loop? What’s the matter with us? Everyone in advertising is going to be replaced by an algorithm? Programmatic is going to take over the world? Mr Sorrell thinks creativity is less and less important to his business? People who make ads are mad men in a world of big data? Blah blah blah.

It bears no resemblance to the real world. One that real people live in and still reserve the right to be superior to machines. And we will always reserve that right to be superior to machines because we don’t know what we want and what we love until some mad man makes it. And that’s the point. We will never value the predictive as much as the unpredictive. Steve Jobs knew that. Steve Jobs was a mad man. We all just have to keep pushing to find new things to love and it’s the same for advertising and creativity.

I see no evidence whatsoever that consumers are now less affected by a brilliant idea, ad or incredible execution. Evident is that when this happens technology carries it fast and harder than ever before. A great idea, a great ad, a great whatever is like a bolt of lightning that flashes around the world. We can touch people faster and harder with creativity than ever before. There are multiple examples of this – Like a Girl, Dumb Ways to Die and many more.

Do have I any hard evidence of this strange and freakish phenomena of people not only liking creativity but totally bloody loving it and spraying all of the web? Yep, and I ve seen it with my own two eyes.

In June my own agency and our partners at Sky launched a campaign spearheaded with an ad fronted by Thierry Henry to celebrate Sky’s 23-year association with the Premier League. It took us, Outsider and The Electric Theatre Company months and months to make. People slept on the floors of offices, people devoted their lives to making it. The level of detail included going back to some of the original Sky footage shot before digital cameras and working out the exact time of day the clip was shot and the angle the sun was at in the sky at that precise moment and then replicating it exactly in modern day, waiting for the same time and the sun to be at the exact same angle before shooting Thierry to be placed in that clip. That is a wonderful and inspiring dedication to create something truly special.

These are the real mad men now and we need to love them because they are not machines but irrationally dedicate themselves to something they love in the hope that others may feel the same way at the end of it.

The ad was watched by 17 million people in just three days on Facebook alone. It smashed all Facebook records before it even went on TV and it was the fourth most shared film of any type in the world that week, only beaten by a bloke on a surfboard being attacked by a shark. It created a huge debate among football fans before the season launched. Even journalists went irrationally mental. The Mirror called it “the greatest thing in the history of the universe”.

Whether you like the ad or not, the facts tell you that creativity has never been better supported and aided by technology – not threatened by it. And that the new mad men, irrationally dedicating themselves to something they love in the hope that others may feel the same way at the end of it, were right.

We should never doubt our relevance when we get it right. Clients don’t. I’ll leave the final word to someone much much more relevant than me and probably anyone in marketing.

"I normally refrain from this sort of thing, but this Sky commercial is dope. There's no avoiding its dopeness. Deal with it." – Vice

Matthew Charlton is CEO of Brothers and Sisters. He tweets @MJCharltonesq

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