One of the features of the agency/marketing business that has mystified me from the beginning and which has continued to confuse me throughout my career as I slid up and down various corporate and non-corporate play-structures is the enduring barrier between so-called strategic work and so-called creative work. What drives me insane about this distinction is not that it doesn’t exist: I recognize that there are modes of work that our more analytical, or at least, rely on more information to create a product that is more like an argument vs. those that rely on less information to create a product that is more fun to look at and read and listen to (though you can see how quickly this distinction collapses at well). What I find so frustrating about the commitment to this boundary is that it’s chief function seems to be to give everyone a bunch of new excuses as to why they can’t do the job. Either the strategy isn’t focused or it's too limiting or not based on accurate information or comes too late in the process or the work is off-strategy or ignores the strategy or is held back by the strategy.
I know there are planners around the industry that complain when creatives “don’t wait” for the strategy which has always struck me as a particularly counterproductive complaint (not least because I’m all about avoiding work someone else is already doing) but also because I think it should be pretty much COST OF ENTRY for anyone who defines themselves as and makes a fair amount of money by having the world ‘creative’ in their job title to be able to come up with ideas pretty much anytime they are at work, strategically inspired or not. And that planners who need creatives to wait for anyone or anything must either not understand the pressures on the business or are unable to bring the power of their own ideas to bear on the subjects in question.
Equally annoying are creatives who complain that the they did a bunch of work and then the “strategy changed” when in fact, to me, it's seems pretty well established that great creative work often goes through many drafts and rounds and evolutions before it is completed. Doesn't the ENTIRE HISTORY OF ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE PRODUCTION support this claim, thereby excusing my need to put a stupid link here. Which is why I’m less interested in whether a creative idea is on strategy or off strategy so much as it ADVANCES THE THINKING on the brand.
So here goes: My point isn't that we do different work. I know we do, but aren't we both trying to achieve the same goal? Which is getting to a great idea as fast as possible (the fast part being a necessity of business though not a virtue in itself) which means that for me: just as a great strategy should accelerate the development of great creative work so should great creative ideas accelerate the development of great thinking on the brand which should in turn accelerate the development of more and better great creative ideas which in turn.... And isn't that supposed to be kind of fun, too?