Some consultants (like IBM, Accenture and Deloitte) have been making pretty aggressive bids both organically and through acquisitions to enter the ad agency space, a topic that came up more than once during sessions at Advertising Week New York last week.
At one session, creative veteran Madonna Badger was asked what advice she would give to consulting firms to nurture a creative culture. Her response: “I would say, ‘give us the data and get out of the room.’’
Say what? That sounds like something a creative person would say to a media person back in the "Mad Men" days, shortly before the start of a pitch. So much for horizontality — WPP chief Martin Sorrell’s wonky word for collaboration.
OK, to report Badger’s quote by itself is to take it a bit out of context. She did acknowledge a few minutes later she was trying to be funny — and she did get one of the few laughs from the audience with the quip.
But as she elaborated, it became clear she pretty much feels that way. “In just the same way that I wouldn’t go into their [the consultative] world and try to explain what to do, I don’t think it makes sense for them to come into the creative world and think it’s an equation that can be figured out.”
Don’t tell Google or Amazon that.
What happened to all that seemingly sincere talk over the last, oh, I don’t know, 10 or 15 years or so, about silos being bad? About the need to break down barriers and get everybody in an agency working together for the good of the client?
“Creatives can be very egocentric,” Badger admitted. Yes, she hammers home that point pretty well. And, she added they can have high or low self-esteem and can be an “interesting bunch in order to get to the fantastic.”
But that’s true of a lot of different groups, throughout an agency and throughout the world.
I have heard more than one agency client proclaim that good ideas can come from anywhere, not just the creative department.
Badger, of course, isn’t the only creative to think like that. But the fact is “creatives” aren’t the only people with great and big ideas. Ideas that might even help a client improve its business.
While traditional “creatives” may not like it, their world is going to be continually rocked by forces outside of the big ideas rattling around in their brains, like data, AI and machine learning.
My advice: Bring all of that stuff into the room and wallow in it. The end result might just be, well, creative.