In an age where the bean counters could at any moment cut, or worse, cancel ‘unnecessary’ advertising and marketing budgets, it has to be an absolute priority for every one of us in our beloved industry to stand together to demonstrate our real worth to our clients, says Tim Beckerling.
A good place to start is with a relevant advertising awards campaign, the stage upon which the example and indeed the bar should be set.
Award shows are theoretically there to raise the standard of creative work. Our campaign, designed for the Loeries, drives home the point that in order to produce great work, all parties involved need to be united under a single banner. Agencies, clients, creatives and suits need to stand together. What excites us about this campaign is that it could only come from Africa. It draws on our heritage as a nation and our ability to rally around a cause.
The truth is, if the only examples of us breaking boundaries are with work designed specifically to win at award shows, the reputation of those shows and the way that clients see us will only deteriorate. We need to show that we are a crucial part of our clients’ businesses and that creating products, building brands and generating revenue are intrinsically connected.
We are not going to accomplish that with hypothetical work whose influence is restricted to a handful of judges and an auditorium of award show delegates. The best work should be out there in the market, doing its job. That is work worthy of praise. Clients need to be on board to create this kind of work, not just as a benchmark of creativity but because it uses creativity as a potent business tool.
Advertising agencies are meant to solve business problems. At the risk of sounding obvious, we are good at doing this because we are creative. We want to tell clients without shame (borrowing from the words of great ad man Adrian Holmes): “A great solution requires a great problem…Every story ever told by humanity is about somebody having to overcome a problem to achieve what they want. (Advertising) strategy is no different. (Advertising) strategy is about overcoming obstacles.”
Jupiter JHB’s Loeries campaign –The Creative Charter
The campaign, called Viva African Creativity, is really about garnering a collective voice to keep creativity alive even in the so-called economic downturn. During these times when budgets are ever tighter, creativity is critically important to get the biggest bang from every buck. This year’s campaign calls for ‘citizens’ in the communications industry to rise up, mobilise and exercise their right for great creative work.
In the spirit of the freedom charter, we created the ‘Creative Freedom Charter’, which was written as a manifesto based on a vision of an alternate industry, one in which creativity governs.
We delivered a framed manifesto to a number of the top clients and advertising agencies to hang up in their offices as a symbol of solidarity. This formed part of a peaceful protest dubbed ‘The March for Creative Freedom’. In addition, our TV ad ‘I am an Adman’ (which draws it’s inspiration from Thabo Mbeki’s ‘I am an African’ speech), used creative heads from many of the top clients and agencies in the country.
So while they are supposedly our competitors, we also have to stand together in a way to sustain a ‘creative human presence’ in business. Viva African Creativity! highlights the importance of the industry working together towards one common goal – to do great work.
The team working on the campaign included Andrew Human, Celina Guimares, Lutho Mgadle, Shane Geffen, Michelle Barrett, Marchand Ebherson, Brendan Ho Yong, Speech Mothupi, Thabang Lehobye, Chloe Coetzee, Bryony Webster, Rob Wilson, Dave Harris, Brad Reilly.
Tim Beckerling is the creative director at The Jupiter Drawing Room (Johannesburg)