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The Value of Creativity in Media

Tess Alps is the Chair of Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK. Immediately prior to this she was the Chairman of the PHD Group in the UK. 

In this article she looks at the current state of creativity in media, and why now is the right time for the introduction of D&AD Pencils for Media. A former Jury Foreman of the Media category, Tess also highlights a number of creative media examples and award winning campaigns that could have been entered into our Media category. 

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Serendipity plays a big part in people’s careers. How on earth have I managed to spend 40 years in media when I set out to be a flamenco dancer? Only now do I realise that, if I had known I was going to spend a lifetime in advertising, I should probably have become an account planner. 

But one happy outcome is that advertising is full of ‘diagonal’ people. People who are as gifted in lateral, creative thinking as they are in linear, logical analysis. People who don’t sit easily in silos. Yet the drive for specialisation has erected unnecessary divisions between people and spawned some ferocious tribal loyalties. 

Even 15 years ago, media people, sick of being belittled and sidelined by creative agencies, would probably have been a bit rude about D&AD and the creative ‘wankerdom’ they believed it protected; media people who would have argued that the 90” Cadbury’s Dairy Milk “Gorilla” ad was profligate and should be cut down to a 30” to afford more showings. I think – certainly hope - that era is over. 

Honda The Other Side / Graphite Pencil / Film Advertising Crafts / Editing for Film Advertising / 2015

Media people now pride themselves on valuing creativity and understand that effectiveness is not about ticks in boxes. They’ve been winning an increasing number of IPA Effectiveness Awards. They’ve also been the source of some brilliant work over the last few years. I’m thinking of PHD’s Lego Movie ad break, Carat’s tactical online film for Bodyform or MediaCom’s personalised Coke bottle ads on 4OD.

At the same time, creative agencies realise that media ideas can inspire them.  Two of my favourite recent Pencil-winning campaigns – Honda The Other Side from W&K and BA’s interactive OOH from OgilvyOne – grew out of new media functionalities. 

These two trends, both collaboration with media owners and new opportunities in ad tech, put media people in a very sweet spot, potentially. They can grab these to make beautiful work. Of course, they could instead decide to abuse these trends hideously to make tedious ‘content’ that only the marketer and her team will watch or to use tech to torment people online and drive the installation of ad-blockers. But let’s think positively. The goal must be ‘how can we ensure the involvement of this brand in this media property will make it better for anyone who might watch/listen/read it?’ If it does that it will work for the brand better too.

The stakes are high, so hurray for D&AD who has decided to get on the side of the angels to reward and recognise media thinking that has led to great work.  2016 saw, for the first time ever, an entire and diverse Media category within the prestigious D&AD Professional Awards, and I was dead chuffed to have been ask to Chair in its inaugural year.   

Watch Carat's Award Winning Bodyform Media Campaign 'The Truth'

Wood Pencil / Digital Advertising / Web Films / 2013

These media awards are not only open to media agencies but to anyone who can show how their media thinking led to fabulous and effective work. The final execution might have been managed by them directly or it might have been realised through a third party, but the award will be for the magic media ingredient. I hope winning a pencil will become as big an obsession within media practice as it is within all the other aspects of marketing and communications that D&AD champions.

People still mourn the separation of media from the creative process that started in the late ‘80s. There are plenty of initiatives to heal this rift. Circles turn but when wheels turn they end up in a different place.  

Saint Steve said: “I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.” I hope the D&AD Media Awards category contributes to the healing and restores mutual respect for the many different skills that are needed to make wonderful work, skills sometimes to be found in a single company and even in a single person.

Watch PHD's Award Winning Campaign the Lego Movie Ad Break

Wood Pencil / Integrated & Innovative Media / Innovative Media / 2015

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Professional Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.
 

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