Where Creativity Went in Advertising- A Modest Proposal

Sometimes the same tools and technology we herald as frickin’ awesome can become  thorns in our sides, pains in our backs, or the cause of many headaches.

Don’t get me wrong, innovative technology and the ability to communicate in a moment’s notice is awesome. And in this fast-paced business environment, that kind of ability is needed. But as an industry, marketing and advertising has not tackled the by-product of the rapid advancement of communications.

For background: let’s take the golden age of advertising, circa 1950-1985. The barriers of entry for the advertising world seemed to be almost insurmountable. To get into the big agencies, to do good work, and to have your good work be noticed, you had to be really, really good. Businesses looked for creativity and awarded those with it handsomely.

Let’s skip and go to the present. There are little to no barriers to enter the marketing and advertising world. Everyone is a “writer.” Anybody can blog. People, after work, can go home, open Publisher and voila! they can call themselves copywriters, designers, and the like. Businesses, small and large, no longer look to pay top dollar for the best talent. Now, unless I’m wrong, businesses today, small and large, are looking to get the best talent available for the most cost-efficient price- which is a very different approach. Because of the surplus of resources and people who claim they can use it-and use it well- businesses sacrifice the need of creativity for the comfort of doing marketing and advertising campaigns on a budget that they deem sufficient.

So what happens? Those creatives who good work and charge a price that matches, get pushed out by those who aren’t as creative and strategic, but fit the price tag.

What I’m saying is,  new and social media has started to turn creativity into a commodity. And this, friends and colleagues, is not good.

How do we fix this? I’m not sure. The “O’s and Ah’s” of advertising and marketing seemed to have left the building. With DVRs people would rather skip them, and with devices like the Flip, businesses rather do their own (albeit shoddy) video instead letting a Pro handle it.

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned the “creative exodus” that an Adage contributor talked about. It’s an important conversation to have. Our industry depends on creativity based on strategy and research, and once we lose that advantage, we being to compete solely on price…like butter.

How will this tale end? Will us creative pros leverage social media, traditional media, and other tools in a way that can weed out the “convenience  creatives”? Or is the advertising industry bound to end up competing not on ideas and implementation, but on Benjamins?

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