Yesterday we were in a pub reviewing testimonials to put on our website, discussing which sentiments would be the most appealing to potential clients. Helen mused that the remark "Carrot Juice strike the right balance of a commercial focus and a creative ideas" summed us up. The 'commercial focus' part of the testimonial was great, we should be expected to understand the market, commercial challenges and be held accountable with proven successes. However, there is something that has always bugged me about the word 'creative'. I've never been able to articulate why. It's one of those ubiquitous words that can mean everything and nothing at the same time. My job role is often referred to as 'a creative' and I regularly rebuke that 'everyone is a creative'.
A break in the conversation and empty pint glasses prompted for a trip to the bar, I popped to the loo on the way. In the gents I was struck by a sight that epitomised what bothered me about the term “creative”. Trips to the loo are often when inspiration hit me, read into that what you will! This is what I saw: Urinals made from beer kegs.
My first thoughts: “that’s unusual, clever, creative, it’s a pub after all and great design makes connections, I wish I’d thought of that!”
My second thoughts: “I’m going to p*ss in that and create an unwanted association with beer and urine in my head, when I return to the bar, after washing my hands in the cut-down keg sink, it’s time to switch to orange juice!”
It could be that this creative idea delivered on the client’s brief. It wouldn’t be the first time that, if a brief was blindly followed, it would result in a negative result. Hence the requirement for a business focus to thrash out what we really want to achieve. However, I would assume that this pub’s optimal commercial outcome was to sell more beer?
We tend to discourage clients from writing briefs, we prefer to hear about passions and desires, then mutually build our thinking and recommendations on those foundations.
The missing part to the “commercial and creative balance” formula conversation was the employment of psychology… we can be very creative, grab attention, be rememberable (we call it visual stickiness) and even get nods of appreciation for ‘unexpected rule breaking genius’. But without thinking through what will happen in consumer’s heads and the potential impact on their behaviour, we are p*ssing in a beer barrel. Being “creative” simply isn’t good enough!