A ramble about the creative process and its challenges from an advertising guy’s point of view…

David Ogilvy once said, “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it.”  There is an art to the creative process itself which is also supported by years of experience.  And, although it may look easy to some – it’s not.

In Shrek, the now classic animated movie franchise, the title character reveals that ogres are like onions. The exchange between Shrek and Donkey went like this:

Shrek: Ogres are like onions.
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes. No.
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry.
Shrek: No…. Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers…We both have layers.
Donkey: Oh, you both have layers. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions.

The creative process is very much like ogres and onions. There are lots and lots of layers.  Bearing this in mind, not every client wants to become involved in or understand the creative process. Yet, for some, the creative process is very magical until they come in contact with those damned layers.

tug-o-warOthers see it as a contact sport.  A perpetual tug of war as to whether these layers are necessary or, are just a form of torture whose only purpose is to increase their billable hours.

Plus, as the result of having been mesmerized by technology, the general consensus of many non-creatives is that any of the layers can be changed quickly, simply and without consequences.

Clients shouldn’t be oblivious to how even the smallest and seemingly most unimportant changes they insist upon, for whatever reason, may adversely affect the advertising project.  Client involvement can be a two-edged sword.

It is very difficult to find Selling the Dream, the Smithsonian television documentary that tracked the making of Mitsubishi’s 30-second television commercial for its then new sports car, the 3000GT, online.  Read about it here to see how it illustrates what happens when the creative process becomes less important than making the client happy.

Some see the creative process as tedious and unnecessary – yeah, including account executives.  Many fail to understand how the end product (a website, print ad, TV or radio commercial…) is connected to the creative process itself. There are definitive and progressive steps required to bring a client’s project from concept to completion.  Like ogres and onions – it has layers.

The creative process doesn’t offer instant gratification.  A :30 television commercial takes hours to concept, write and produce.  Care, consideration and support for the creative team is crucial.  They need your information and insight to create a precisely pointed selling message to support the marketing strategy.

The creative process has built-in checkpoints to determine the project’s progress; to evaluate and review where it should be in the time line, as well as, if it will or will not reach the stated objective.  There is an order to the layers! Blaise Pascal once said, “The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first.”

The creative process has a singular objective – to quickly and effectively reach and relate your product or service offer to a specific audience.

Ogilvy said, ,  “Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.”  The one thing non-creative participants can be certain of is that the creative process doesn’t always happen easily and, in a straight line – there are layers you know!