Answers for Adam: Is creativity still the answer for ad agencies?

This week Adam Ferrier asks whether ad agencies should be embracing startup culture more, or continuing to focus single-mindedly on creativity.

“The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists”. Banksy (apparently?!)

adam-ferrier-2-copyThe above quote is around ten years old and I wonder if it’s still relevant. I’m getting the sense that the new breed of creative folk who want to make a buck are not entering advertising – but rather being seduced by the technology fuelled ‘start-up’ culture. For example is it cooler to attend the Cannes Lions or tweet about the latest gadget unveiled at SXSW?

The only reason I worry is that many creative types in our industry appear to be slow on the uptake on the three pools of learning that the ‘start-up’ culture embraces along with ‘creativity’, namely i) an understanding of the behavioural sciences, ii) a deeper understanding of data, and iii) an even deeper understanding of technology. The start up culture doesn’t scream ‘creativity is the answer – now what was the question?’.

Now not all of us can learn everything – and there is a counter argument to be had that ‘creative types’ should just focus on being creative, and the other skills can be learned by other people within the advertising industry. So my question this week is would your agency be doing better work if it put data, behavioural sciences, and technology up on pedestal along with creativity? Or is a single-minded focus on creativity still the answer?

Adam Ferrier is chief strategy officer at Cummins & Partners. Each week he sets Mumbrella readers a new question to answer. His book ‘The Advertising Effect’ is available for pre-purchase here.


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