Creativity Alone is Not Enough

There was a time when good advertising photos and commercials stood out because they were creative. When just having a picture in your ad could set you a part. But those times are long gone.

In today’s crowded, noisy world good advertising photography and video must transcend just ‘creative’. Arguably, everything that is made is creative. But if you flip through any magazine or browse any interesting site, there are images that engage you and images that don’t. Gideon Amichay, the ECD of Y&R; in Tel Aviv, helps us understand that we must press beyond base creativity. In this new era of media we must be…

Brilliant. In a word, this is easy to say, but hard to do. What is brilliance? It’s insightful. It works harder. There’s more happening on a deeper level…more neurons firing when you look at the work. But beyond being just brilliant, for work to get ‘noticed’ it also has another characteristic. It is….

Different. Some professional creatives roll their eyes at ‘different’ because they argue that different for the sake of being different isn’t worth much. I agree. That said, ‘different’ with brilliance works. If you haven’t seen something before–say a fresh camera angle or a unique treatment on an image or video–you’re more likely to … stop on that page. Like it or not, different is effective. But while being creative, brilliant, and different you’ll get great gigs, lots of attention and perhaps even a high five from the award people. But the real thing we should all aspire toward is…

Innovative. This comes in many forms, but my understanding of creative innovation is when you’ve created something truly unique, when you haven’t just provided a solution to the problem, you’ve asked more questions, answered those questions too and solved the problem in a way that nobody has before you. It’s more than just working harder, finding a better camera angle and shooting the ad. It’s re-defining an entirely new expectation of what’s possible. It’s the iPhone. It’s the opening sequence to Saving Private Ryan or the 3D in Avatar. It’s Warhol or Banksy. Seth Godin or Gregory Crewdson. It’s Cartier-Bresson.

And while this list might be intimidating, there’s an abundance of room in every single craft or industry for innovation. In fact, it’s required for progress. So which of us will innovate? I’m banking it’s the ones that start out with creativity, sprinkle in some brilliance, and do things differently on a regular basis…Those folks are most often standing on the edge of innovation.

Admittedly, beyond a list of things, it’s hard to say what innovation is. But if I can’t say exactly what it is, I most certainly know what it is not. It doesn’t look or sound at all like the status quo. It doesn’t resemble boring pages in a source book, or a direct mailer. It’s not f8 at 1/250th with a main light and a fill. It doesn’t feel like a 30-second spot on prime time or a headshot on the cover of Time. Innovation often seems like it’s a far cry from what pays our bills as professional creatives, but I have no doubt that it’s worth aspiring toward.

The thing I do believe is that we can get there with intention and hard work. But how in the hell can we get somewhere if we haven’t defined where we’re going? Well that’s the purpose of this post. Let’s put a target on creative innovation. Let’s figure out where we’re going and go there now.

[original post and inspiration via the fun blog at Makin’ Ads]

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