claims of ‘creativity’ meaningless?

Marc Babej of Being Reasonable argues as follows:

Few notions in advertising are more overhyped and blathered about than “creativity.” In fact, “creativity” has been used so broadly and universally as to become an equal opportunity claim – invoked regardless whether an agency demonstrates it in practice.

The post is also discussed at Fresh Glue and Jaffejuice.

Along with Publicis, Crispin Porter, and FCB, Babej includes us at wieden + kennedy amongst the agencies he criticises for ‘blathering on’ about creativity. (Personally, I particularly like that FCB’s site talks about ‘creativity at work’, but their site is ‘under construction’. So it doesn’t work.)

Babej includes the famous David Ogilvy quote:

“If you spend your advertising budget entertaining the consumer, you’re a bloody fool. Housewives don’t buy a new detergent because the manufacturer told a joke on television last night. They buy the new detergent because it promises a benefit.”

It’s fair enough to criticise agencies for claiming a category generic, ‘creativity’, in a way that fails to differentiate their offering and is arguably unsubstantiated by their output. Creativity is a vague and subjective term. We would never suggest to anyone that they should work with us or for us because we’re ‘more creative’. It would indeed be meaningless and unprovable.

And I agree wholeheartedly with the continuing relevance of David Ogilvy’s comments about sponsored gags. But I don’t think it’s simple enough these days to say that our job is simply to ‘promise a benefit to the housewife’. Media is more fragmented and the consumer is smarter. If there’s anything that’s different about the way we approach what we do it’s in trying to build that ‘strong and provocative relationship’ between people and brands. You don’t achieve that just by telling jokes – though humour can be part of it – you do it by surprising them, pleasing them, making them think, and  prompting them to act.

Entertainment on its own is not enough. But in a world where it’s increasingly easy for people to avoid messages that are dull, irritating or irrelevant, then it can’t hurt to be entertaining. Who wants a relationship with someone boring?



The annual pre-Thanksgiving wieden + kennedy ‘pie-off’, as reported by Adfreak, was as pleasantly acrimonious this year as ever, with e-mail intimations that Wieden’s New York staffers "should have a lock on cheesecakes" and could easily cheat by submitting one of several hundred store-baked pies. There was some suggestion that we in London should have walked it, given our winning form in every other awards show this year. But we didn’t get around to actually baking a pie, which put us at something of a disadvantage.

Categories included berry/fruit, creme/meringue, chocolate, "straight-up apple", and pumpkin/nut. "There are no rules," said one of the judges, who needed to remain anonymous. The winner was Dan Kent from Portland’s IT department, who won the Grand Prize for his apple pie entry.

change the world

We do some work sometimes with  we are what we do. They’re an organisation that aims to get people to use their everyday actions to change the world. Last year we helped them with their best-selling book, Change the World for a Fiver.

Yesterday they had an event round the corner in Fournier Street at the Timberland Boot Company store to generate publicity and suggestions for their new book, currently in development, which aims to get people to use their actions at work to make the world a better place. Here’s Nicholla, who’s been working with Sophie on ideas for the new book.


Here are Nick and the ever-energetic and enthusiastic Eugenie from We are What We Do.


management meeting


This is the Market Coffee House in Brushfield Street, where every Thursday morning Tony, KIm, Neil, Bronwen and Stuart meet for what is laughably referred to as ‘the management meeting’. This morning Bronwen was in Australia and Stu was in Argentina (hols), so it was just the three of us for high powered decision making and crumpets with jam.