Noun: Creativity; Latin: creō, "to create, make".
Creativity could be anything. It is this article/note/self-help guide/comic relief. Yet it would never have seen the light of day if not for this little Calvin & Hobbes strip. Last-minute panic translated: RP Sir’s knock-knock e-ssage.
But, actually, a wonderful insight into what creative advertising is like. In reality, what it should never be like. In short, a whirlwind ride no one/no course can ever prepare you for — briefs, round-table-conferences, scribbles, scratches, re-scribbles, scripts, layouts, storyboards, deadlines, selling, hits-and-misses, artworks, late nights, too tired to even appreciate your hard work, the proud feeling with which you tell someone else that that was your ad.
Welcome to the world of creative advertising.
Ever seen an ad you wish you had made? Ever wondered how the whole idea came about? Ever envied those who did it? Ever wished you could be “creative”? Of course you have. So why aren’t you doing it? The common mistake people make is to assume that they can’t because they are not creative.
|RIGVED SARKAR: "An idea can come from anyone/anywhere."|
I beg to differ.
It’s all in the head. Ask yourself: “Am I not?” Creativity is in anything that we create — a product, a service, an ad, a work of art, a solution, a joke — which adds value in some way or the other to your life or anyone else’s. Thinking already? Then ask yourself: “Why am I creative?” Everyone will have a different answer, none wrong. Creative advertising is just a means of expressing that creativity — in writing or in design.
IN THE BEGINNING COMES THE BRIEF
So where does it all begin? With the brief: a document that contains one thing the client says his product has/does that sets it apart from the rest. Without a brief there can be no creative. It is the what, why, to whom, how, with what benefit, in-a-language-they-understand of any creative process. Understand the brief well and always remember: God is in the details. Once you are clear, write down the proposition in five words. If you can’t write it, you can’t create it.
Once you have your proposition it’s time to bring that ad to life. This usually means cracking heads in a brainstorming session with your design partner (art director) and team to arrive at a possible route/way in.
Food for thought: Never believe you, as a creative person, are the sole custodian of ideas. An idea can come from anyone/anywhere. What sets you apart is the skill to know which idea to use and the craft to frame it. There can be a hundred great ideas but not a single right one. Learn to keep yourself open to everything around you. And that means reading a lot, observing a lot, and asking lots and lots of questions (yes, you can Facebook too; surprisingly it does spark many an idea). Only then will you be inspired.
BRINGING YOUR IDEA TO LIFE
Do not be afraid of a blank piece of paper/art board. View it as a window to a world of possibilities. As a writer, don’t just pen that one great headline. Visualise it. Read it out to yourself. Read it out to others. Does it make sense? Everyone may not have your vision so never assume one’s job is done after simply putting the copy together. See the complete picture in your head. If you can’t how do you expect your partner to?
The art director is your partner in creativity. And you need your partner to bring your idea to life. Share thoughts, brainstorm together. We all have our limitations — a writer’s when it comes to visualising, an art director’s when it comes to writing. But that’s the hallmark of a great team — the ability to step in where the other’s horizon ends. To jazz up a layout is as much a conscious decision as it is to keep it simple and clean. To use a font-based visual is as much a conscious decision as it is to use a stunning visual/scene/model. But try not to over-art direct. Some of the greatest ideas in the world are the simplest ones.
And always, always, create two options. One, which the client wants, and two, the one you think fits the brief and works best creatively (and two options do not mean one with a blue background and one with yellow).
Value-add wherever possible but, remember, the client is the custodian of the brand, and so may know it better than you do. Accept the client’s ideas, find worth in them, and then build upon them. If the client still persists, give him what he wants. But never stop trying. If you submit good work, he WILL see value in it and you’ll be the one smiling at the end of the day. That is the greatest reward.
ORIGINALITY IS AT A PREMIUM
It is said that there is nothing in this world that is an original idea. And it’s probably true. Something you thought of might have been executed elsewhere already. You might even see it in your own backyard. But if it fits your requirement, why not? Of course, don’t copy blatantly.
Food for thought: Do watch the “Everything is a remix” films.
Creative advertising. There is no starting point. But there is a finishing one. The challenge is in how you reach it. Defining one’s thought process is very hard. Everyone has their own way but there are some commonly acquired skills that are definitely beneficial. Finally, practise, and always keep some sheets of paper on you. You never know when you might have to scribble a thought. Now go on and give your creativity a shot!
- Rigved Sarkar's Commits batch mate ARPAN BHATTACHARYYA gives us his views in "What creative advertising really means-2".
- Further reading: "The power of creativity" (scroll down to the piece) by Commitscion AJAY KURPAD (Class of 2011), also a copywriter with Saatchi&Saatchi in Bangalore.