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You Have Creative Control. Really.

If you haven't read the article from Newsweek on 'The Creativity Crisis,'? you should get on it. Go check it out. According to the article and the studies it references, the experts claim that creativity can be learned. So, if humans have the ability to learn to think abstractly, uniquely and creatively, why would they ever choose not to? If you're reading this piece, you're likely a marketer or have something to do with the marketing field. If you had the ability to better at your job, be known as an 'idea person'? and not regurgitate the same old ideas over and over again, doesn't that seem like an enviable proposition? Personally, I consider myself a fairly creative person and have always felt bad for those that dismiss themselves as 'I'm just not creative.'? Like the article states ' I think we all have the foundation to be creative, it's just a question of what you do to build that side of your brain and change your thinking to be more dynamic. To me, thinking is fun. Coming up with ideas is fun. Doing 'creative'? things is fun too. I strongly feel that those that dismiss themselves as 'not creative'? are really missing out on the energy and excitement that comes with having a fertile mind. So if you're one of those dismissers (<-- look, I just made up that word!), you should really give creative thinking a shot. It might take a little work, and it might not come overnight, but what does? Many of the tools and skills we need to be good at our jobs take years to develop ' and creativity is no different. You now have no excuse for a lack of ideas or new thinking. Seriously, have a go at it. I think you and your coworkers will all like the results.

The "Risk" of Creativity

I can't speak to the validity of the recent results shared on the declining creativity in our country but I can share a perspective on whether or not as a society we're as willing today as in years past to the success and failures of creativity. To be free to be creative means being free and open and willing to fail along the way. However, the risk of failure along the path to creative greatness is what I suspect is affecting our overall creativity success. Have we stopped taking risk? Are we more aware of the public scrutiny when we do so and fail? The answer is absolutely ' the expectations from ourselves and others is to push the levels of creativity in ideas, solutions and overall out of the box thinking but the freedom to do so with the possibility of not knowing, with 100% accuracy, what the final result will be is what is changing. There is an increased desire to be different while still being liked and respected within your defined group ' whether you're a company, brand, agency or an 8 year old child. I imagine that once the hypocrisy stops then creativity will begin to increase again. Let's truly reward creativity.  Let's embrace the notion that two people can look at the same problem and solve it differently. Let's be open and willing to support those that try and fail along the way because we believe and know they'll learn, refine and find the creative magic in the end.

  • 1 min read
  • August 11, 2010

The "Risk" of Creativity

I can't speak to the validity of the recent results shared on the declining creativity in our country but I can share a perspective on whether or not as a society we're as willing today as in years past to the success and failures of creativity. To be free to be creative means being free and open and willing to fail along the way. However, the risk of failure along the path to creative greatness is what I suspect is affecting our overall creativity success. Have we stopped taking risk? Are we more aware of the public scrutiny when we do so and fail? The answer is absolutely ' the expectations from ourselves and others is to push the levels of creativity in ideas, solutions and overall out of the box thinking but the freedom to do so with the possibility of not knowing, with 100% accuracy, what the final result will be is what is changing. There is an increased desire to be different while still being liked and respected within your defined group ' whether you're a company, brand, agency or an 8 year old child. I imagine that once the hypocrisy stops then creativity will begin to increase again. Let's truly reward creativity.  Let's embrace the notion that two people can look at the same problem and solve it differently. Let's be open and willing to support those that try and fail along the way because we believe and know they'll learn, refine and find the creative magic in the end.

Creativity Crisis: Decline or Re-Deployment?

I'm not so convinced that American creativity is declining, based on the evaluation criteria described in Newsweek. But rather that it's being channeled elsewhere. Relating it to our business, we are witnessing a huge shift in the expression of creativity: from the simple 'what' are we saying, to a more holistic 'where' and 'how' and 'when' are we saying it. In other words, creativity is no longer just the domain of the creative department, but of everyone who thinks about where and how we deliver our message. The channel options are exploding and will likely continue to do so. At the same time, the creative product itself is evolving: becoming less constructed and more iconic. Words play a lesser role in advertising today. Consumers respond more viscerally to imagery. In all media, they expect to read less and indeed either can't or won't stick with messaging that requires the kind of time and effort that reading more than a few words requires. But that's hardly a function of the creativity quotient per se. So is advertising 'less creative' today than five or ten years ago? I believe that there are fewer overt 'stand out' examples of creativity now than then. Compare the selection of Super Bowl or Oscar night commercials over the years, and consensus is that the offerings have become less original, less funny, less clever and less visually stunning. The same is true of other traditional channel work -print, OOH- that can be compared over a long period of time. And the reasons can be debated - does increased clutter demand more branding and allow less whimsy? Does the kind of measurement increasingly applied to ads cause a dumbing down so that 'everyone' gets it?  Is the pool of ideas finite and running low? (Certainly we're seeing more and more old concepts being re-made.) But the range of channels is so much wider now, I believe there is as much creativity as ever, it's just being stretched across so many more media. If you were to select 50 pieces of great creative from each year, I believe you'd find the quality as high today as 10, 20 or 50 years ago. But today's 50 would include virals, banners, micro sites, widgets, apps, experiences, AR's and many other vehicles unheard of when TV and print ruled the award shows. The good news is that given the increased range of options today, we will surely need more and more creative minds to fill them. And we will. Because creativity entertains, and entertainment sells.

The Creativity Crisis

A few weeks ago, Newsweek published an article titled The Creativity Crisis. Essentially, the article discusses how 'creativity scores'? in American kids are declining. Creativity scores? Basically there is a test that can gauge creativity. Creativity is defined as 'the production of something original and useful.'? First, who knew that sort of test existed? I know that school (middle school and high school) has changed a lot since I was there '?¦ but a creativity test? Poor kids... they are graded on everything. I find it so interesting that something that is so subjective as creativity can be measured. But then again, it sort of happens every day in our business. Return on Investment (ROI) is something that we hear every day. Sure, that campaign is funny, clever and captures my attention. But how much? And if something captures my attention what does that mean for sales? How does / will  this 'creative'? impact my bottom line? Campaigns or ads cannot just look pretty for pretty's sake but they need to have a purpose, they need to resonate with the target consumer and result in some sort of measurable consumer action (i.e. awareness, consideration, purchase, loyalty, or evangelism). So a 'creativity test'? happens on regular basis in the agency world. I just wonder if testing kids may be taking things a bit far (but it has been going on for over 50 years now). Second, I wonder what my score would be'?¦ but then I sort of don't want to know. I think of myself as a somewhat creative person and I think that if I took a test that told me otherwise I might be a little bit devastated and I really don't have time for an identity crisis right now. So I asked a couple of my colleagues to share their reactions to the article ' we will be sharing their thoughts over the next couple of days.  In the meantime ' what do you think?

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