Myth Busters: Creative Edition

We’re the only industry that’s pretentious enough to use “creative” as a verb. When you talk to people outside of marketing, do you imagine how you must sound? “What do you do?”

“Oh, I do creative.”

I’m not sure, but I’m willing to bet that calling it “creative” was a slick move by an account person. It sounds so sexy, doesn’t it? If you were a client seeing a pitch, which would you rather see: a campaign visual strategy presentation or creative?

If you don’t know, creative means any part of brand marketing you experience with any of your senses. So campaigns, commercials, pranks, whatever you can dream up.

Of course, it has a bit of allure — being sexy and all. So we thought we’d dispel some of our favorite creative myths that keep popping up.

Myth: There are no rules

Busted: Here’s a tiny secret we’ll let you in on: good writing, good stories, good creative all come from following a set of precise rules. Sure, a lot of noise is made about breaking the rules, sometimes great work can come from that. You have to know the rules to break them.

Myth: Ideas come from out of the blue

Busted: Thoughts can come out of the blue but usually not fully formed ideas. It takes time for those thoughts to build into something useful. Sometimes it’s the deadlines that force your hand. But most of the time it’s persistence. Having a thought that sounds like it might be something and constantly thinking about something else and coming back to it. A good way to think about how ideas come to fruition is to think of it as percolating coffee: sure you want a coffee five minutes ago but you gotta let that baby sizzle.

Myth: All copywriters failed to write the great american novel

Plausible: This one happens to be true. And still bothers us to this day.

Myth: Bad advertising is made intentionally

Plausible: Well, I don’t think anyone tries to do bad work. They just don’t care enough to do good work. There’s a threshold of happiness you can achieve. Where the client is happy with what’s being produced and the creative team is happy. That usually takes a bit more than just a first draft though.

Myth: All designers are just engineers that are bad at math

True: This one happens to be true. We add with our fingers. 

Myth: it’s an individual sport, where superstars come up with everything

Busted: I think most people don’t think about advertising that much. If they did, I wonder if they would know how much of a team sport it is. The best work comes from collaboration. They come from casual conversations with friends, coworkers, teams, and clients. Most of the time they don’t come from meetings, but those chats and offhand comments that happen before and after meetings.

Myth: Creative people are dramatic

Plausible: Imagine someone telling you this: “we need you to be brilliant, we need a great idea, can you be brilliant by 3:00pm today?” That would stress anyone out. Creative people are more introspective than most, we wonder about our place in the universe, if we’re any good at anything; and most of the time we feel like we’re not. Some days we feel like we could fly. Most days we feel like we suck. So yes, there is some truth to the sensitive artist-type. However that doesn’t mean that we’re all jerks, or that we’re allowed to be. That doesn’t give us a free pass to be snooty, either. If you’re good at something, it’s important to remember that usually means you’re really bad at something else. Max Scherzer might be able to throw a baseball 97 miles an hour, but I bet he can’t write ad copy to save his life.

Did we miss any myths? Are there myths you’d like to see debunked? Or are we the only ones that think about this stuff that deeply.


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