Leslie has been professionally involved in the creative industries
since 1992, after growing up in a house full of creatives (instead of
family portraits and home movies, she and her older brothers would
film their own episodes of Lost in Space and Land of the Giants).
She launched the oddly-named Burns Auto Parts in September of 1999.
Throughout BAP’s existence, and Leslie's career, she has focused on
helping creative professionals make their livings doing what they
love. This has led to research in coaching and psychological issues
facing creatives and the addition of coaching services to her
In addition to her other work, Leslie has written chapters in both
the 2003 and 2006 Photographer’s Market, published a photo biz book,
and writes a regular column in Picture magazine. She lectures to
creative groups across the US, blogs regularly, and her podcast,
Creative Lube, is gaining new listeners every month.
Let Your Creatives Create!
By Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua
Okay, so we’ve had the Super Bowl and the reactions to the ads are in. They are overwhelmingly “eh…not bad, but nothing wowed me.” Two of the highest ranking ads, in popularity and, according to the Today show, brain function results (at least one of the ads), were the Doritos non-professional-created ads.
This is extremely important to those of us in the creative professions–the professions which work in marketing and advertising.
At first glance, this could be seen as a significant threat. After all, arguably some of the best ads on the Super Bowl were made for almost no money and by rank amateurs! What would clients need pros for, if they can get better work from everyday Joes and Janes?
I’ll tell why these ads can actually be considered a positive for our industries: they are proof that the client needs to let go of the reins. Yes, they got some really strong work from these people, but why was it so good? Because these creators were not hamstrung by the client. These people, these non-pros, got to be free with their creative processes. They didn’t have to go through round after round of approvals, with some suit telling them they needed more diversity or couldn’t do X because it might not appeal to Y segment of the market or any of the other crap that we pros have to put up with in every single project.
Can you imagine what the creative output would be like from agencies if the client hired them and let them do their jobs? Can you imagine what the other ads in this year’s Super Bowl would have been like? At the very least, the reaction wouldn’t have been this overwhelming yawn we’re seeing this year.
Clients see the huge number of viewers and try to force them into an arbitrary market (singular)–THE Super Bowl viewers. In the doing, they are trying to homogenize a group that is anything but singular in its tastes, desires, needs, cultural backgrounds, etc. This huge number of potential buyers (and the price tag) makes them scared they won’t reach EVERY SINGLE one of them they might be able to with their one ad, and so they start to control (read: dilute) the creative.
These non-pros didn’t have to go through that process. They never had to face hearing the client say things like “both the actors are white–we might lose the African-Americans who buy 24.23% of the Doritos annually and we can’t do that! Let’s make him African-American…or maybe ambiguously mixed race!” (percentage made up by me, btw), quickly followed by the next suit saying “and we may offend people who dive green cars! We should focus group that” which could easily be followed by “we might get sued for suggesting that drivers eat our product while driving–let’s make him sitting on a bench.”
And so it goes in our real working world.
So here’s my plea to clients everywhere: let your incredibly talented and creative creatives do their jobs! Let them create, innovate, make things that may challenge some groups. Stop forcing your agencies to create crap, and then complaining about how the ads are crap and how you can get better from non-pros. Until or unless you let your agencies do what they do best, you will get exactly the same ho-hum crap you have been getting. Get out of their way, and you may get stunning, effective brilliance.