After writing earlier on the lack of digital experts and sitting through 2-days of marketing presentations at the APPIES in Singapore, I got to pondering on the creative work we are producing.

Are the skill sets required of a copywriter and art director team changing? If I knocked the cobwebs off my own portfolio, and dug out the work I’d produced over the years working in the advertising business I would find beautifully-crafted full-page magazine advertisements and a reel of TV commercials. The production of these involved a team of highly experienced, skilful professionals like Helmut Newton, John Clarke, Ridley Scott and Hugh Hudson.

I can imagine the young creative guy of today dusting off his portfolio in 30 years time and re-discovering the photos of the Heineken Social Christmas tree and the game he created for Last Man Standing (I chose these two because they were finalists in the APPIES – not created by the same agency or person, I might add for truthfulness sake). How will he feel about his work and career?

In my day, the creative department was full of arguments on finer points of typography or what shot should have been kept in the final edit and discussions on DDB’s new ads for Volkswagen. If I am honest, we probably didn’t think about ROI or research figures. We loved the colours and subtly of actual film and sneered at the newly invented video format.

Perhaps today’s creatives understand better than we did, that advertising is all about sales. The training we received in art and design, or our education in English literature and good grammar, is probably not relevant in a day and age where a number of “Likes” is more important than the typography, lighting on a film or the craft in copywriting.

We live in a different era now. Maybe our industry has to, therefore, attract a different type of person. That glossy 60-second TVC of the seventies can be put back in the dusty old portfolio case. It’s history. Veteran’s like me may feel nostalgic, and younger people may envy Don Draper and the lifestyle depicted in the TV drama “Mad Men” but we, as an industry and as individuals, have to move forward.

The heart of our business remains ideas. We still strive to find fresh exciting ways to communicate, relying more now on research and data rather than intuition to keep us on track.

Advertising is a different business today and operates in a different world. But it is still exciting and challenging. I’ll say more on this next week.

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