Brave New World

Creatives grapple with how to do great work in a shifting ad landscape

One of the recurring themes of Adweek’s 29th Creative Seminar, held at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, was just how hard it is to create great work. But the bigger question was whether advertising as we know it should even be the goal.

David Lubars has no faith in futurists, but he believes the traditional 30-second TV commercial will likely be Tivo-ed out of existence by 2006. In his opening keynote address, Fallon’s president said creatives can choose to remain ice-delivery guys in the age of the refrigerator, or they can reverse the paradigm and have consumers seek out—rather than block—their messages. Among other interactive work, he cited the Adidas billboard from TBWA\Chiat\Day in Tokyo that features real guys hanging on bungee cords playing soccer. The Matrix-like sports spectacle is so popular that it causes traffic accidents in the Ginza when people meet up to “catch the 5 o’clock billboard,” he said.

Brian Collins, executive creative director at Ogilvy’s Brand Integration Group, agreed that the industry needs to ditch its I Love Lucy-era model, and he caused his own traffic accident when he arranged for another kind of interactive dialogue: Uniformed Krispy Kreme employees marched into the room with just-baked doughnuts, and the 200-plus attendees were delighted to experience the soul—and tasty sugar toppings—of that little-advertised brand.

During a hilarious presentation over the clattering of forks at lunch, TBWA’s Trevor Beattie said all of creativity is divided between those who care and those who don’t. To illustrate the latter, he showed a photograph of a London road that had two straight parallel yellow lines running along the side—until the painter reached a traffic cone, which he painted right around. “To do great work,” Beattie said, “you’ve got to move the cone.”

Sometimes moving the cone requires the right machinery. He swears it was not set up, but in a presentation on presenting, Steffan Postaer, evp of LBWorks, advised against using any tech, saying there are usually too many problems associated with it. He then called for a Led Zeppelin clip, and the wrong visual appeared onscreen.

In a copywriting seminar, BBDO’s Gerry Graf suggested that if you’re out of ideas, steal from your heroes—just to get going. Graf, who has created work for E*Trade and Red Stripe, said he was “inspired by” Cliff Freeman. Eric Silver, group creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, also weighed in on the difficulty of the process, admitting that some spots of his were greeted with “the sound of chirping crickets. … Failure is inevitable for those of us trying new things and experimenting,” he said. “Once you accept that, and embrace it, it’s the only way to get to the really great stuff.” In whatever medium.