Things happen in my professional life that either make me proud or make me cringe.
For those of you that don’t really know me, my name is Michel and I am an advertising creative. My title is Creative Director, I fancy myself as a creative story teller. My discipline was that of an Art Director, I will explain that later.
The two events that happened week were related. Here’s the story…
On last Wednesday, I attended the annual Cincinnati AdClub Cannes Awards luncheon, brought to us by USA Today and sponsored by(crap I can’t remember). We had a dude from Bridge Worldwide talk beforehand about his french y french riviera experience. It was interesting and I have to admit some envy, OK a lot of envy, raving frickin’ jealousy, but I digress. The one thing that I do remember because it’s still stuck in my craw like a hamburger stick with the little red plastic crap on the end.
He said there was a discussion about removing the “Advertising” from the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival which they actually did. Henceforth it is now the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. WTF!
On Saturday, I attended the Kilgour Fall Event. They made me feel great by gushing about what a good job I have done over the years on their “graphics.” In my line of work(advertising) it is very rare to receive platitudes or be celebrated and I truly appreciate being appreciated. My pro-Bono work gives me great satisfaction in that respect, because it’s great to be able to give back when I have gotten so much.
But. I did more than just the “graphics.” There’s a concept in there some where.
Splitting hairs, you ask?
In my mind, Advertising is the root/core of what I do. Webster’s defines advertising as 1 : the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements. I would add the word “persuade’ in there and targeted public too.
It’s the concept behind the action above. It starts with the homework of finding out what exactly we’re selling and to whom we are selling to. It involves the emotion of the experience of the brand and how to tap into that emotion to persuade them(whoever they are) to action(buy). I’ve found over the years that there’s only one way to do this well.
Tell a story.
So I use all of these tools to tell a story, starting with a objective, then strategies to reach the objective(s), executions of the strategies using a plethora of creative techniques and concepts, and finally the craft of art & copy to create the thing. I said thing because this works for campaigns, ads, the ugly trifold pamphlets, Outdoor, POP, websites, banner ads, TV spots, tweet campaigns, facebook fan pages, all that voodoo that medo and my friendsdo so well. Why we make it so complicated is beyond me. Confession, I do know why, it’s all about billable hours.
To me, Advertising is the Genus of the species and Branding, Packaging, Interactive, Graphic Design, PR, TV & Radio production, and many others are the sub geneses of the species. All very are important to a marketer to deploy on their brand development. But, the creative CONCEPT has to be KING, all the other stuff is delicious icing on the cake. Mere delivery vehicles. It doesn’t matter who creates the concept! So often I see stuff without a core concept, just snappy or sloppy technique.
When I started my career, thirty years ago, I had two paths from which to choose. One path was to go into te graphic design side of the business and find work at one of the many fine Cincinnati Design Studios. They did mostly packaging work for a huge dualithic consumer package goods marketer and soap maker. The second path was to land a job at one of the local/regional advertising agencies. They work on all the big companies advertising campaigns and that meant my first love TV and second Radio(storytelling). I chose the later. Proudly.
Lately, I have seen the Design Studios become the dominate force of the local creative scene. The advertising agencies have gotten smaller and more scarce. It’s a shame and I don’t like it. Admittedly , ad agencies have caused much of their own demise by over charging, excessive mark-up and blantant arrogance. We made it too damn hard to do business with us by bring impossible to work with. Too much beatdown is not good for business.(Ask any client)
Now, LPK, Landor and the likes offer services that ad agencies used to do, product and market research, branding, packaging, the spinoff were the Digital agencies like Bridge and Hyperquake. They design and create. They craft experiences and content. It’s all good. But what about the storytelling? What about the selling? The persuading? The art? It’s there, but you have to hunt for it.
So what do I care if they take the Advertising out of Cannes or I’m applauded for being a gifted graphic designer. I guess I don’t care all that much, but it’s not me.
I’m advertising artist and storyteller and always will be.