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Are You Looking for a Job in Advertising?

Good Agency Talent Night.

If you’re looking for a job in advertising in London, you might like to pop along to The Good Agency next Wednesday evening 24th June — they’re having a ‘talent evening’.

I’ve been doing some training for The Good Agency recently — they specialise in work on good causes, in business, government and the charity sector, so it’s an opportunity to work on some really interesting and valuable projects. And as you’d expect, they are very nice people, I always enjoy going in to see them. So at the very least I think you’ll have an enjoyable evening and meet some interesting creative folk. I’ll pop along myself if other commitments permit…

Here are the details:

The Good Agency, a leading good cause marketing agency based in Waterloo are holding talent nights the last Wednesday of every month.

Talent night is your opportunity to find out about the Good Agency, meet the team, and, well, show off a bit. We don’t require a song, theatrical performance or interpretative dance. But we are interested in what you have to offer the only integrated creative agency specialising in good causes. Along the way you’ll get the chance to have a glass of wine and some posh crisps, and meet other people in the industry (they used to call this ‘networking’). Talent night happens on the last Wednesday of every month, here at our Boundary Row offices.

We want to meet talented marketing professionals (creatives, account handlers, planners, PR’s and office support people). But we can’t see everyone and places are limited, so please RSVP to Raquel De Araujo to reserve yours.

Where: The Good Agency Group

When: Wednesday 24th June

Time: 18.30-20:00

RSVP – Raquel.dearaujo@thegoodagency.co.uk

Is it Better to Be a Creative Generalist or a Specialist?

Specialist or generalist?

Image © Dave Gray, reproduced by kind permission

If creativity is your livelihood, is it a good idea to pursue multiple interests and develop a range of skills, or should you focus on one or two key talents and become the best around in your specialism?

I’m asking the question because two of my favourite blogs take completely opposite positions on this issue. In the red corner, Steve Hardy devotes his entire blog to the concept of the Creative Generalist, and recently wrote an excellent post about What Specifically Do Generalists Do?. In the blue corner, advertising copywriter Scamp has this to say about creative generalism:

the idea enrages me so much that every time it pops up I feel the need to reach for a hammer, like I’m playing a blogging version of whack-a-mole.

At the risk of getting whacked by Scamp’s hammer (and of mixing metaphors) I’m going to look at both sides of the question and see if I can referee the fight.

[Read more…]

The Enneagram, Pitches, Personalities, Croissants

Thanks to everyone who braved the weather and made yesterday’s Enneagram breakfast discussion such good fun. These events depend on interesting, engaging people turning up and joining in with lots of questions and comments – which was exactly what happened.

Topics we covered included the role of individual personalities (client and agency) in the pitching process; using the Enneagram to understand and influence people who are very different to ourselves; locating brands and organisations on the Enneagram; and how the Enneagram helps me choose my shirts.

Special thanks to Rebecca Caroe who suggested we do an event together and did an excellent job of facilitating the discussion. I think it says a lot about Rebecca that she suggested the event the first time we met and was then very proactive in making it happen in record time. It was great fun working with her and I’d definitely recommend the experience.

Hmm, that’s given me a taste for this kind of thing, I’ll let you know if/when we do another one. Drop me an e-mail if that’s of interest.

Winning Pitches with Personality Types – Agency Event with Rebecca Caroe, 22nd November

If you’re involved with pitches and new business for your agency, you may like to come along to a free breakfast event I’m running with Rebecca Caroe in central London at 8am on Thursday 22nd November.

The Enneagram of Personality Types

I’ll be talking to Rebecca and taking questions from the audience about the Enneagram system of personality types, and how it can help agencies in a pitch situation, where the personal chemistry between agency and client team can be crucial to success.

If you followed my series on the Enneagram series of personality types for Successful Blog, then you’ll know I’ve been using the Enneagram for around 10 years, helping understand themselves and others better, and achieve their goals in sales, management, training, teamwork, negotiation and their personal and professional development.

Rebecca is a consultant specialising in business development, marketing and sales for PR, advertising, airect mail, and digital agencies. She’s very creative, focused and practical. We’ve had a lot of fun knocking ideas around between us and finding points of common interest. So I’m looking forward to a stimulating and enjoyable conversation on the 22nd – if you’re interested in joining us, please send me an e-mail.

Inspiring Boundless Creativity – an Interview with Tina Brazil, People Director, Profero

I’m very pleased to share with you this interview I recorded with Tina Brazil, People Director of the digital marketing agency Profero.

Boundless Creativity

In 2006 Profero won a Special Award for Most Innovative Initiative at the Excellence in CPD Awards of the Institute for Practitioners in Advertising. (CPD = Continuous Professional Development.) If you remember my interview with Jill Fear, CPD Manager for the IPA you’ll know that Jill and her colleagues have high standards when it comes to professional development – so Profero have obviously been doing something special to win the award.

When I spoke to Tina, Profero had also just won a coveted Gold Cyber Lions Award at Cannes, for its Mini – Follow the White Rabbit campaign – the only UK agency to win Gold at Cannes this year.

In the interview, Tina spoke about why people development is so important to Profero and how they inspire ‘boundless creativity’ in everyone at the agency – not just the creative department.

Profero’s award-winning CPD initiative included the following elements:

  • An ‘inspirational speaker’ series including Lord Puttnam, Greg Dyke, Neil Christie of wieden + kennedy
  • A ‘lunchtime speakers’ series on practical industry topics
  • Boundless creativity projects set for cross-disciplinary teams
  • People skills training from Dawn Sillett
  • A training intranet to act as an agency blog and raise awareness of available training options

For more details of the programme, you can download the Profero case study from the IPA website.

Profero Logo

Profero

Profero is Europe and Asia’s leading independent full service digital marketing agency. Since it was founded in 1998 it has delivered over 5,000 effective and innovative campaigns for clients, more than any other agency of its kind. Profero specialises in advertising, web development, media buying and relationship marketing solutions. Its client base includes Mini, Astrazeneca, Western Union, Johnson and Johnson, Central Office of Information, Channel 4, Expedia.Over 200 imaginative people work as one team out of London, Hong Kong, Paris, Munich, Milan, Madrid, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney engaging clients with the world of digital communications by demonstrating its creative, connective and brand building capabilities.

Tina Brazil – People Director

Tina Brazil is responsible for ensuring Profero’s award winning people practices retain its talented team and attract untapped talent to the agency. This forms many guises from training and development, benefits, and maintaining Profero’s all-important culture by making sure people have fun along the way.

Tina started her career as a PA in Publishing before realising that she’d like to do her job in a more creative environment. After joining Redcell as a PA Tina moved to Profero as an Office Manager where evidence of the development culture can be seen with her appointment to the operational board as People Director.

Tina’s moto is: ‘It’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it!’

Click the icon below to listen to the interview.

PSFK Conference – Morning

PSFK Logo
Very enjoyable time at the PSFK London conference the other day. It’s being extensively blogged elsewhere (links below) so I won’t try to cover the whole thing, just edited highlights. If you’re not familiar with the PSFK blog, it describes itself as “a lens of changes in cultural behaviour that influence all of us” – or to mix the metaphor, it’s a constant stream of new trends in media, business, fashion, the environment, entertainment etc etc. For someone like me it’s an interesting read, for professional marketers I gather it’s essential.

So where are all these trends leading us? The first conference session presented us with contrasting visions of the future. First up was Timo Veikkola, whose job is predicting the future for Nokia. I was intrigued to learn that we’re currently in a “Noah’s Ark period” of floods, cataracts and hurricanoes, not to mention Famine, War, Pestilence etc – but that by 2010 or so we’ll see renewed optimism in society, which apparently happens at the dawn of every decade. I was fascinated by Timo’s predictions and explanations of how he extrapolates from “What’s happening now?” to “What’s going to happen next?”. By the end of his presentation I was even starting to feel (dare I say it) quite optimistic. Thenl the bubble was burst (for me) when we were presented with the following quotation, apparently without irony:

“The one fact about the future of which we can be certain is that it will be utterly fantastic.” Arthur C. Clarke.

I was horrified. Surely the one fact about the future of which we can be certain is that we can’t be certain of it? And surely we’ve seen enough of the Brave New World to suggest that it’s not likely to be relentlessly “fantastic”?

Regine Debatty

As if on cue, Regine Debatty of We Make Money Not Art stepped up to offer a distinctly less Utopian take on the shape of things to come. [Read more…]

What Do Poetry and Advertising Having in Common? Paul Feldwick Provokes

Hot on the heels of the Is Blogging Killing Planning? debate, Paul Feldwick has bravely stepped into the ring by suggesting that poetry and planning have things in common, and that poets and advertising folk have things to learn from each other. He recently gave a talk on Poetry and Planning at the Account Planning Group, the gist of which is available to download from the APG site, as well as his ‘Fine Frenzy Manifesto’ about “poetry as a force for change in organisations”.

Here’s the basic (ahem) proposition:

Poetry and advertising are usually thought of as remote from each other, with a good deal of distrust or ridicule often expressed on both sides – even in an agency world that prides itself on its ‘creativity’.

Despite – or perhaps even because of – this, I find there is a lot of latent power to be released by bringing these two worlds together.

Having seen eyes roll, both in poetry classes when I’ve talked about working in ad agencies, and in business seminars when I’ve mentioned poetry, I can testify to the “distrust and ridicule”. So I’m very interested in what Paul’s doing. Creativity often happens at the point where two worlds meet – sometimes it’s a conversation, others it’s more like a flashpoint. It’s amazing how conservative so-called ‘creative’ disciplines can be when invited to consider an alternative worldview, so I’m intrigued to see what happens when Paul introduces poetry and advertising to each other.

Here’s a paragraph from the ‘Poetry and Planning’ pdf that caught my eye:

my experience of poetry has led me to reconsider some of the popular ideas we have about ‘creativity’. In advertising, and in business generally, the idea of creativity is often associated with innovation or originality for its own sake. Poems do generally I think strive to seem fresh and express things in new ways. But innovation for its own sake is really the least important thing that makes a great poem. Surely it’s all rather to do with getting every detail right, getting the structure and rhythm and balance right, the nuances and for want of a better word, the ‘artistry’? I’m sure that this is just as true of ads as it is of poems. Yet we routinely devalue all this as a mere ‘craft skill’, and celebrate instead the originality of the ‘creative idea’. I don’t think, however that great ads are just ideas dressed up to go out, any more than poems (or plays, or pictures) are. This thinking is based on a desire to reduce something complex and organic to a simple essence that can be analysed, owned and controlled. I don’t believe that’s possible and it has damaging consequences.

I love this as I get tired of hearing creativity equated simply with idea generation, when that’s often the easiest and least interesting part of the creative process. Shakespeare wasn’t interested in creating ‘original’ plots, but his execution was pretty good – he was so intent on “getting every detail right, getting the structure and rhythm and balance right” that the originality took care of itself. In my own humble way, I know that when I’ve made a conscious effort to write an original or new kind of poem, the strain shows in the writing – the most interesting things happen when I’m focused on something else, on trying to capture something accurately or tease out the little animating goblin in a word or phrase.

I was disappointed to miss Paul’s APG talk so I’m grateful to Russell Davies and Mark Rapley for inviting me along to an evening last week where Paul entertained a group of (mostly) planners with readings from poets including Rilke, John Hartley Williams and Billy Collins. As well as having good taste, Paul is a terrific reader and has lots of interesting things to say. Have a read of his talk and manifesto pdfs (on the APG site) – they’ll bring a bit of inspiration to your day and maybe even your business.

How Do You Balance Art and Commerce?

Interesting piece in Campaign (2nd March) about ‘Adland’s Artists’ – advertising luminaries who create art in their spare time, with pics of their creations and quotes about why they do it.

Some of them, like Graham Fink (Executive Creative Director, M&C Saatchi), see a link between their advertising work and their art:

“Art is massively important. It’s important to stamp a part of your spirit on your work projects.”

While Trevor Beattie (Partner, Beattie McGuinness Bungay) sees the two as worlds apart:

“Art has nothing to do with my work; art is in a box marked ‘art’. Advertising is strictly commerce.”

Here’s the article – you need to sign in but apparently registration is now free. (The Brandrepublic site has just gone all Web 2.0 with a new design and blogs – maybe Russell’s having an influence.)

Personally, I like having my poetry occupy a slightly separate space from my coaching work (it even insisted on having its own poetry blog) and I don’t mention it much during coaching sessions, but I’m sure the two influence each other.

How about you? Do you keep your ‘professional creativity’ and your ‘art’ separate or do you like to mix them up?

Creative Links – January

OK I might have made a mistake by promising to do Creative Links on a monthly basis – there are simply too many good creativity posts. Or maybe it’s like buying a new car – as soon as you decide on the model you want, you see it everywhere. In the interests of keeping up and keeping things fresh I’ll have a go at doing Creative Links weekly from now on. But first here’s the edited highlights of what I found in January, sorted into categories to keep it manageable.

Where do ideas come from?
Scamp takes issue with a piece of research that claims Where Ideas Come From is other people. Beeker claims it’s ethical to Steal Well, and Faris, true to his motto that Talent Imitates, Genius Steals, Couldn’t Resist the joys of plagiarism. Neither could I – here’s the picture he doubtless nicked from someone else:

200702061127

If you’re looking for a balanced view, Doc Searls weighs up the pros and cons of disclosing your ideas vs keeping them secret in his post 10 Ideas About Ideas (via Creative Generalist); while Brian Lee advocates a middle way between plagiarism and the pressure to be original, reminding us that Creativity Is A Communal Act.

Tortured Artists
It may just be wishful thinking but I don’t see why artists shouldn’t enjoy themselves (and their work) as much as anyone else. I’m glad to learn that at least Douglas Eby agrees with me, in this great post on Pain and Suffering and the Artist.

Creative Partners
The subject of torture brings us neatly to relationships. Scamp continued his excellent series of Tips for Creatives with Finding the Right Partner and How to Have a Good Relationship with Your Partner – useful advice interlarded with (for me) flashbacks to my days as a couples therapist.

Synaesthesia
As a fan of creative synaesthesia and inter-disciplinary creativity I was pleased to see Mark Hancock catch the synaesthesia bug when he ventured out of the advertising world and spent time with videogame creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Noisy Decent Graphics did a brilliant piece on What I see when I listen and Russell played around with Electroplankton, which looks a bit like an online, affordable version of the Reactable.

Creative Flow
Speaking of altered states of consciousness, Steve Pavlina wrote a great description of My Experience of Creativity, prompting my inner Creativity Trainspotter to tick off Csikszentmihalyi’s Nine Elements of Creative Flow – can you spot them all? Steve followed up that post with 7 Rules for Maximizing Your Creativity.

Planning
Adliterate hosted a cracking debate on the question Is Blogging Killing Planning? I’m not a planner so I’m not qualified to answer the question, but reading through the comments on that post and judging from the general quality of blogs in the plannersphere, I have to say planning is doing wonders for blogging.

Creative Collaboration
Staying with planning for a moment, John Grant argues the case for Planning as Mediation – between the (potentially conflicting) interests of the client, creatives and customer. Simon Darwell-Taylor bemoans the lack of inter-disciplinary communication in ‘the typical ad agency’, as opposed to the more collaborative approach of TV production. Yet the grass is always greener – Richard Wilson has started a wonderfully dour blog called TV Grouting, where he says:

TV and the internet don’t seem to me to be natural partners. The internet is based on the principle of sharing information and ideas and making everything cheaper. TV is about owning and jealously guarding ideas and extracting as much money as possible from them

He contrasts this sad state of affairs with the world of advertising, where planners like Russell are ‘willing to share their ideas ‘with any number of people who might be prepared to nick them’. (As if they would…)

So what can we conclude about creative collaboration?

  • Creative people need to share to be creative
  • Creative people get scared of sharing because someone might steal their creativity
  • Creative people sometimes need someone around to get them to share a bit more
  • Creative sharing looks terrific fun from a distance, it’s a bit messier close up.

For the pitfalls of creative collaboration, see Kathy Sierra’s brilliant The Dumbness of Crowds.

Creative Think
It’s almost impossible to single out individual pieces by Roger von Oech, they are all so consistently and variously creative, you might as well pick some at random – which is exactly what you can do if you click his picture on the Creative Think homepage. A couple of blog posts that stood out for me in January were Set A Deadline to Goad Your Creative Juices, countering the received wisdom that creativity is all about freedom from constraints; and his invocation of the God Janus to usher in the New Year by thinking something different.

Enterprising Blogging
Hugh McLeod knows a fair bit about blogging and being an entrepreneur, his random thoughts on the subjects are more memorable than most people’s considered musings.

200702061821

Making a Living as an Artist
The online opportunities for creative producers can be bewildering – Jonathan Bailey clarifies the strategic options available in an excellent post on The New Content Economy.

Writing
Delve into the voluminous archives of Liz Strauss’ blogs and you’ll see she’s no stranger to Unblanking the blank screen so it’s worth listening to what she’s got to say about it. She’s got loads more great posts on writing, but 10 Ways to Start a Blog Post should keep you going for a while.

For What Not to Write, look at Claudinho’s post about 20 Words Most Used in Press Conferences. ‘Best of breed’ anyone?

And just when you’re relieved that the words are finally starting to flow, up pops killjoy Brian Clark to tell you Why Creativity Can Kill Your Copy. Brian’s a master of the headline that draws you in – admit it, you’re itching to know what’s so bad about creativity, aren’t you?

Creative Links – December

I’m going to make Creative Links a monthly feature, highlighting posts about creativity and related matters that are inspiring, interesting, useful or preferably all three.

Here’s what I found in December:

Procrastination is a classic way to block creativity, so if that’s your Achilles heel, read Kathy Sierra’s Creativity on Speed, on the excellent Creating Passionate Users.

One of the best ways to be truly creative–breakthrough creative–is to be forced to go fast. Really, really, really fast. From the brain’s perspective, it makes sense that extreme speed can unlock creativity. When forced to come up with something under extreme time constraints, we’re forced to rely on the more intuitive, subconscious parts of our brain. The time pressure can help suppress the logical/rational/critical parts of your brain.

Kathy Sierra’s trailer is one of the creative workspaces featured in Alexander Kjerulf’s gorgeously-illustrated list of 10 Seeeeeriously Cool Workplaces. Other featured offices include Pixar, Mindlab in Copenhagen, Volkswagen in Dresden, and of course the Googleplex.

It was great to get a Christmas present from Design Observer when they linked to my enthusiasm post in their ‘Observed’ column. I can’t imagine them getting quite so excited about a link back from me, but Michael McDonough’s Top Ten Things They Never Taught Me in Design School is worth reading (even if you didn’t miss out on the top 10 by not going to design school). The list includes ‘Talent is one-third of the success equation’, ’95 percent of any creative profession is shit work’ and ‘When you throw your weight around, you usually fall off balance’.

Staying with the business of design, Graphic Define has a good list of questions for aspiring designer/entrepreneurs – ‘Are You Ready to Open Your Own Design Studio?’.

Thanks to Three Minds @ Organic for pointing me to the New York Times’ Year In Ideas Issue, covering the ‘serious and silly’ ideas of 2006, such as ‘The Comb that Listens’, ‘Empty-Stomach Intelligence’ and ‘Wine that Ages Instantly’. Three Minds also introduced me to the delightful Samorost Interactive Adventure (Not Safe for Anyone with Lots to Do).

Scamp is writing a great series of Tips for Young Creatives. No.4 was Pretend You’re Two Blokes in the Pub and try to convince your mate of the value of the product you’re working on:

It strips away all the marketing bullshit, and can lead to something simple and honest.

I’ve been using a similar technique for ages, to get writers (including myself) unblocked and strip away the ‘literary bullshit’, so it’s good to see it applied to advertising. Other tips in the series – 1. Don’t Over-Polish, 2. Choosing an Agency, 3. Play Family Fortunes, 5. Dickett’s Finger, 6. Use Never-Seen-Before-Footage and 7. How to Approach Agencies. Hopefully there will be plenty more in 2007.

Apart from being essential reading for anyone with a presentation to give, Presentation Zen provide plenty of general creative inspiration offers inspiration like this end-of-year post on The Need for Solitude in the creative process.

Finally, Brian Clark’s Copyblogger is one of the most consistently useful blogs on the web – if you write a business blog, website or e-book you’re probably reading him already, but if not you can’t afford to miss The Best of Copyblogger.

That’s it for December – I’ll post January’s creative links early in February.

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