Creativity Matters

Rather than picking a cause du jour and excoriating our industry’s practices, or writing some kind of know-it-all sales pitch about how YOUR AGENCY will be LEFT BEHIND unless you immediately implement PROGRESSIVE IDEA X, I’d like to tell you about something we’re doing right. Maybe it takes an outsider to see one of the real crowning elements of this industry with clear eyes.

You see, I’m a new copywriter recently come to the advertising world straight from my 3rd floor English Department office. That “Dr.” in front of my name isn’t some kind of nickname. And while I’m not the only one who has jumped off the good ship academe in favor of the more frenetic, yet greener, pastures of private business, there is one thing I’ve noticed that all my agency co-workers take for granted. People in advertising treat creativity seriously, like it matters, and are willing to give writers and artists the space they need to excel in their roles. I feel respected and appreciated. Daily.

I realize I need to clarify my position since so much of this is taken for granted around the office here. Some examples of what I mean: In a recent creative meeting, both the Art Director and the Creative Director said things like “Go wild” and “Really challenge yourself with this.” When I chimed in with some thoughts, everyone at the meeting looked at me attentively. It was a shocking moment as I slowly realized they cared about what I was saying. I tentatively let myself realize they were open to fresh ideas. About a week before that, my Creative Director asked for some copy that would really blow him away, and then encouraged me to take the time I needed to do it right. And these are not isolated incidents.

I’m imagining a sea of puzzled faces reading this article, so entrenched is the idea in the advertising world that creativity matters. But let me give you some more information. Not only was I a professor of English, I was a professor of Creative Writing, specifically poetry. I spent my days instructing students in the art of line breaks, alliterative structure, fluent thought patterns and vibrant language.

However, the last faculty meeting I remember attending was focused on how our classroom syllabi were all due on such-and-such a day and that these had to follow a departmentally approved format! Though we were obviously allowed to put our own personal “mark” on the material we distributed in class, this was not specifically encouraged. And while we were told we had to “produce”—meaning we had to publish articles, essays and creative work as a way to demonstrate our seriousness and commitment—when we did publish something, it was never mentioned or rewarded in any way.

When I broached the subject of developing a new class format to a colleague of mine, she politely explained how she had designed the old format and that it “worked well enough.” Ego aside, this clearly indicates the overall environment: zealously committed to the status quo, constraining us all to a system of stifling regimentation.

Granted, I’m having trouble finding someone around my office who will discuss the intricacies of Coleridge’s poetry with me. But I’m still convinced I’ve made the right choice and I think the industry as a whole should take a minute to realize that we’re doing something very and impressively right.

Any agency that realizes the value of the creative staff and embraces the full extent of what they need to do and what they can do, is creating an environment that will ensure delivery of the best materials to clients. You’ll have a happy creative staff, working in one of the few industries in which creativity still matters.

Dr. Nate Pritts
The Russo Group

Radio Renaissance

If you’d asked me about radio advertising a few years ago my response would have been, well, it’s less than stellar. After all, radio isn’t nearly as sexy as television and print, right?

But over the years my views of radio have changed considerably, both strategically and creatively. Radio is so often abused and misused, it’s no wonder it has gained such a horrid reputation in the advertising world. Sure, you’ll get plenty of station reps telling you it’s the best thing on the planet, but few agencies regard it as an optimum creative choice.

Chances are if you turn your radio on right now, you’ll probably hear some wacko screaming at you about the big sale on Monday. Or better yet, you’ll find someone who read a book on how to advertise on a budget, who will repeat his company name and phone number at least 5 times within a 60 second spot. Soon you’ll either be tuning him out, flipping the station, or kicking on the ipod.

The thing is, people still love the radio, no matter how bad the advertising is between songs. It’s basically environmental noise to them. It’s soothing in an odd way. The problem – it’s not advertising.

In order to break free from the clutter, you have to dig deep. You have to capture your audience’s attention, and yes, you have to make them interested in what you have to say.

Humor – maybe. Drama – perhaps. Tell their story – always.

Now this part may hurt a bit so prepare yourself – If you are not a trained professional then perhaps it’s time you find someone who is. Yes, I know it’s harsh, but if I don’t tell you, who will? There are people out there who can help. Just pick up the phone and make the call.

Talented copywriters will be standing by.

Michael Russo
Creative Director
The Russo Group