Category: Creative

Sounds like a lovely place to work…


The new Apple campus sounds like a collaborative hellhole…

From the article:

“The new building features open floor plans and few traditional offices”

So the staff who are crap at their jobs can hide behind those workhorses that do all the work.

“management must be at a vice president level or above to get a formal office”

So that those same staff can then leapfrog over those silent hard-workers and grin at them from shiny, quiet offices.

“The new campus will include bench seating, long work tables, and open cubicle spaces, potentially irking employees used to quiet office environments”

So that nobody can take credit for any one task (even though it’s usually the hard work of one, quiet person that creates ‘innovation’), and that person cannot then rise through the ranks, jeopardising the roles of senior management.

“Apple’s presentations to the city of Cupertino have indicated that the open floor plan designs are conducive to collaboration between teams”

Ewww. Collaboration.

A word created by those who have never created anything in their entire life, but have found that if they stand in the same place where that creation is happening, it will be assumed by management that they were part of it.

You know, what I’ve found over the years is that the only reason executives love this fashion of open plan, collaborative workplaces is so that no-one stands out.

No single person can be attributed to creating something, and rise above the rest.

We’re all winners.

We’re all a team.

All working ‘collaboratively’

And because no one stands out, no single person can rise to executive level and make those executives look dumb.

It’s a protective response by senior management who know that they aren’t fit for the job, but they don’t want the investors to know about it from a bright, innovative, hard working person. Just ‘yes men (or women)’ here please.

Steve Jobs ‘secret sauce’ was in part, all about people, small teams of smart people and one person in that team where the buck would stop.

Tim’s Apple doesn’t sound like that, it sounds like every other large company I’ve heard of.

Steve once said:

A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

It looks like Apple’s going to be full of B & C players, but at least they will all work collaboratively.

Maybe they’ll get around to figuring out how all those engineers who’ve now left Apple, who created the MacPro managed to do it.

I’m sure they will all get around that long work table, pull up a bench and nod, like they’re understanding what’s actually going on.


Customers just don’t care…


Do you know what? I really don’t like that shade of blue today, can we make it 3 pixels lighter?

Another wonderful, effortless piece of analysis from Mr Trott. 

Customers really don’t care about your brand.

Or your extensive research.

Or your targeted direct mail campaign.

Well, 89% don’t, which may as well be all of them.

The only thing you need to remember is that the most important thing is too make your advertising memorable.

Remember – the first place your customer sees your advertising, is alongside dozens of other brands in the newspaper, or on the doorstep of their home.

Your first priority is to get them to notice you.

The only way you do that, is to make your creative memorable.

The creative idea has to be the most important part.

Not the data, or the sales analysis, or the channel you’ve chosen.

I have tried to explain this to managing directors, marketing executives, operational leads, sales executives and any number of very important people, for many, many years.

None of them listen.

They’re more concerned with the fact that they don’t like that particular shade of blue.

Or that picture just doesn’t communicate value.

Or that the design isn’t the right balance between masculine and feminine, whatever the hell that even means.

Or the logo isn’t big enough.

Or there’s too much white space.

Or that picture is just too many millimetres to the left and it’s a critical business need, to move it to the right, just a little.

What I’ve deduced over the years, is that running a company is hard – it’s really difficult to motivate your buying teams to purchase goods that your customers want to buy, at the right price, quantity and with the perfect profit margin, or to motivate your sales staff to recruit more customers, or to sell more of your goods.

It’s far simpler to concentrate on tiny, easy to change details that have absolutely no connection with actual sales success, but give you the illusion that you’ve made some really important business decisions today.

Customers aren’t data…


Get to know your data…

Sorry I mean customers…

When I was studying marketing the thing I was told is that half of my ad spend was a waste of time, trouble was you would never know which half.

The only chance you had was to grab the customers attention with a great idea that changed their behaviour.

The drive to data driven marketing is trying to solve that initial problem – which part of my ad spend is wasteful.

The idea is to focus on the group of customers that will respond to your spend.

The best bang for your buck as it were.

Trouble is, customers don’t think like that.

One time, you may get it right, but those dang pesky customers won’t react the same next time, to the same stimulus.

That’s because people aren’t data, they’re not numbers, they’re not a spreadsheet that conveniently adds up to 100.

People are unpredictable & illogical.

You have to focus on what people are, not what they aren’t.

People are passionate, scared, excitable, fearful, full of want, desire, lust, envy and anger.

These are the traits that change behaviour, and they only thing that pushes those buttons is creativity.

And by creativity I don’t mean the marketing department ‘getting creative’ in a brainstorming session.

Are you confused that your target market didn’t respond to the targeted campaign you ran, when all the data pointed to the fact that 72% would because of their buying patterns or the fact there was correlation between their demographic position and the product?

It’s because you ad was shit, just like this one – PEOPLE DON’T DO THIS!



They do however DO THIS!


The Sainsbury’s ad was designed by committee and bears no resemblance to any customer behaviour.

The iPod ad was designed by the BWA/Chiat/Day team of Lee Clow, James Vincent, a former DJ and musician, and art director Susan Alinsangan, read the story here.


Creatives and marketeers


The Creatives versus the marketing team.

Great article –  it’s nice to have the point of view of a creative in this situation, instead of another marketeer hiding behind marketing-speak they only half understand.

I’m a trained graphic designer, from a marketing background and now work as a design lead of a design team in an in-house role which I’ve done for many years. So I’ve seen it all from both sides.

I’ve worked with dozens of marketeers, all with very impressive degrees and even more impressive job titles.

Most of them do not understand what marketing actually is, or how to do it.

Marketing isn’t design, or being creative or working with colours, or pictures or shapes.

It’s not using google image search to find a design you like and then telling my team to copy it (which happens constantly).

Marketing isn’t sitting with the designer and telling them where to move the mouse until you happen upon something marketing ‘likes’ by chance, days later.

Marketing is market research.

Really boring market research into the behaviour of those really boring customer we all have.

Marketeers should research the problem that the client (or boss) has presented to them to solve.

Demographics, customer data, focus groups – they can call it whatever they like – they’re the experts.

They should use that research to come up with a marketing plan, that will form a ‘brief’ to a designer, usually centred around one or more relevant advertising channels.

A brief – remember those?

This briefs tells the the designer THE PROBLEM, not THE SOLUTION to the problem.

It used to be like this in my early agency days – marketeers (or account managers/sales managers as we used to call them), would do all this and do it really well, and then leave it up to the designers to solve the problem creatively.

A designer used to present to the client directly along with the account manager – this way the idea could be justified along with sound design reasoning.

The account manager didn’t have to change the creative or tread on their toes because they didn’t have to justify it to the client – the creative did.

What happens now is that marketing thinks that they are the sole arbiter of the solution – marketing stands between the designer and the client – everyone else is simply a tool to be used in the process.

We all have a part to play in the process.

If marketing don’t like the design, (“it strays too far from the brand”, or “it doesn’t solve the client’s sales problem”, or “I don’t like the colour”), the problem is with the brief they briefed to the designer – not the designer.

Not that ‘liking’ it or not is even relevant.

It should solve the problem outlined in the brief.

Whether the designer or the marketeer like it is irrelevant.

A great designer can design something they don’t like. We are all solving the customers problem, not the designer’s, marketeer’s or the client’s.

It’s up to the account manager to explain that to the client, not to stand over the designer’s shoulder debating which shade of blue they like this week.

This is the reason why there’s so much conflict between design and marketing now – marketing have forgotten what their role and responsibilities are, they treat everyone else as a ‘service provider’ and they’ve forgotten how to write a good comprehensive well researched brief.

This is why the advertising we surrounded by is tepid, committee driven dross.