Pat Langton: Is craft dead in advertising?

CRAFT (1).jpgA blog written by Pat Langton, creative director/partner of Magnum Opus Partners, Melbourne

There's a great quote from Professor Jeff Richards, it goes 'Creative without strategy is called art, creative with strategy is called advertising'.

For us ad men/women we live by this mantra. We craft our ideas and spending hours and hours getting that layout perfect or that copy or script to a point of excellence. Well, that's what it used to be like, anyhow.

The thing is, we have this thing called social media where there's a constant need to produce stuff or what I like to call the 'C' word and what others like to call 'Content'. When you break it down 'content' is just advertising, you can call it what you like but it's still bloody advertising.
There's a lot to say about doing one thing really, really well, putting all your money into something people actually might enjoy watching, listening to or looking at and then getting as many eyeballs on it as possible (Super Bowl anyone?).

As more and more clients are doing their own advertising, the question has to be asked, what's the value of an idea, and then, does craft even exist anymore. The answer is simple, all brands, no matter how big or small, need an outside view. Over the years I've seen a few brands take all their marketing/advertising in-house and in most cases it has failed (cough, Pepsi).

There are exceptions, always, but generally brands need an outside view. That's not to say that brands shouldn't have in-house, I think it's important that they do but for their brand advertising they need a relationship with an agency where they can discuss their brand and craft these ideas into something worth watching, reading or listening to.

If brands are doing their own advertising then nothing remarkable will be created and their advertising will be... well... meh. The only reason why you do advertising is so that you can stand out, but if brands don't value an idea and the craft then we're all doomed and there's no rainbows, sunshine or unicorns. Craft is what makes ads remarkable, craft is what we see every award season but these ads are few and far between, they cost money and money is also few and far between these days.

The craft of advertising is something that not many of the general public know about but it's what makes advertising worth watching. It's the difference between something average and something great. I've seen great ideas crafted really badly and bad ideas crafted well and it makes a huge difference. I hate the idea of saying of anything being 'dead', TV is 'dead', digital is 'dead' but when it comes to 'craft' I have this strange feeling that it is, at least, dying.

The issue is the state of Advertising, where it is and where it's going. Yes, there's all
this tech and data but let's be real here, we make ads that's what we do, what platform they sit on isn't an idea. I believe there's no such thing as digital advertising, there's just good advertising and bad advertising. Whether it's VR, AR or whatever the next trendy buzz word is, it's still advertising. These are not ideas, these are platforms for ideas, there's a big difference and crafting these ideas need time, money and creatives to make them great.

I don't want to sound like an advertising wanker here but I care about this shit. I see advertising as entertainment, hopeful I know, but if we don't entertain then we lose and there's no point. We interrupt people's lives, that's what we do, so if we're going to do that we may as well entertain them. And in order to do that we need to craft that idea until it is entertaining enough to get their attention. Craft is what makes things great, we need to stop and educate clients on how to make things great.


Yes said:


Here here. Although, whilst you’re a bit vague on the particulars and big on the generalities, I can’t agree more that brands need an outside view—even if that’s just to say, “you can do better.”

Is it our place to educate clients? I don’t think so and on the whole, I don’t think they want to know or even care. We do the work, this brings results—I think trust is a more apt idea here.

Ian Betteridge said:

Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no".

@James said:

If you're not educating a client, suit or whomever about the value craft can add to a brand's perception, then you're really in the wrong job.

And it's likely clients trust you very little.

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