The “science” behind the creative.

One of the things I’ve come to disdain about our business is how damn serious we take it. Not the craft itself — creating, curating and choreography — but the extemporaneous crap we built around it. Stuff like process and proprietary tools; the things we fill our slides with to make people think we’re methodical and scientific.

Whether we make ads or websites, we have complicated what we do beyond what is necessary to do it well. That is why briefs are no longer brief. That is why Cannes has become a cluster f—k. That is why I am writing this post.

Planning and strategy are the progenitors of creativity. The agency gets an assignment and we formulate a team. Left-brains give us facts and insights. The right brains turn them into ideas.

In a healthy agency, the two sides work together. Part of this is collaboration. Part of it isn’t. Each assignment predicates a different balance of both. Inviolate in this are the people. The better the people the better the outcomes. Yet, as obvious and true as all this is, agencies insist on codifying every step we take.

We call it ‘our process.’

Process is how agencies mitigate the fear involved with taking risks. We create the illusion of proof to support an idea. This insight divided by that challenge equals a solution. Ta da!

Reverse alchemy occurs when an agency justifies its creative after the fact. So many ideas are the result of divine inspiration yet that’s hard to package and pitch. Cool ideas need to be scientific case studies, for award shows as well as client presentations. Therefore, we manufacture smart sounding bullshit to appease the decision-makers.

Every agency I ever worked at romanticized their data … a lot. It’s just what happens when mythmakers and bean counters work together: Collusion!

Food for thought next time we pray at the altar of agency process. We have made our agencies into churches of organized religions but divine inspiration often has nothing to do with it.

Author’s Note: A version of this story first appeared in Reel Chicago

“I make gibberish sound important.”

To all of my friends from the United Kingdom, I beg your pardon in advance for this post. But blimey! I am so tired of British voices driving American commercials for American-made products. I know brands do it to sound classy and global. But didn’t that line of thinking disintegrate along with Hugh Grant’s acting career? This isn’t a race thing. Or a patriotic thing. I’m just over the accent. Enough is enough. It’s no longer, as the Brit’s like to say, brilliant.

What took me over the edge is a new campaign for Seagate technology. I hear the radio spots every evening during my commute home from work. My eyes twitch every time the dude (Can Brit’s even be dudes?) says “dater” instead of data. The word is annoying already without adding a pretentious spin to it.

Then I saw the TV commercials, one of which is included above. Of course the guy’s handsome and debonair. Why else would they hire him? Oh, that’s right: the voice. Alas, his performance is mediocre. In fairness to his Lordship, he was given those scripts. Listen to him ramble on about data being a part of everything and Seagate harnessing its power, or some such. I’m not really sure. It’s more of that tech mumbo-jumbo. Maybe the writer figured a debonair English voice would make it sound fresh. Once upon a time it might have. Nowadays, the accent is all too common. Aren’t the days of swooning over English voices long over? Remember when Madonna inexplicably took on a British accent? I barely do either.

“Bloody walkers!”

On the other hand, Hollywood adores putting Brits in just about everything. For example, at least three of the characters in my favorite show, The Walking Dead are British, including the lead role. The show is based in the southern United States, which has its own distinct accent! I think it’s funny that the producers cast various Brits for these roles, and then had them alter their voices to sound American. But they do alter their voices. And, frankly, they look and sound great.

Plenty of Americans worship the Monarchy. Always have. From Lady Diane and her children to the latest Princess and hers, we can’t get enough of these entitled beings. Me? I turn the page or channel whenever I see a silly hat.

Look, I know this post is bollocks. I don’t really care. Frankly, I like the BBC. Danny Boyle. Ricky Gervais. Lemmy Kilmister. Geniuses all! But I just like taking the piss. And “dater?” Well, that’s just wrong.