Nike RUN Like ME on Creativity.
Nike RUN Like ME on Creativity.
When I first started in advertising, the industry was at the tail end of a very classical period. Projects would often take over a year, and the deliverables were primarily magazine ads and television commercials.
Anything on the Internet was considered a geeky experiment and not to be trusted. I joined Twitter during its first year, and I remember suggesting using it for a campaign. I was roundly laughed out of the room for my naivety. The same thing happened with proposing a campaign that would work entirely on Facebook.
Refresh your browser to today, when Twitter and Facebook have become a core consideration on every single advertising brief. Gone are the year-long concepting grinds. Replaced by a new kind of fluid client-agency partnership that takes incredible collaboration to meet the ever quickening deadlines. The process is often chaotic during the making of these things, but when the dust settles, we have projects that everyone takes pride in.
I think the model for advertising used to model the process cycle of filmmaking and the fine arts. But as technology has tipped into mainstream ubiquity, the advertising model I find myself operating in is closer to developing, programming and hacking. It’s our job to bring as much taste and aesthetics to this process, but you need to shift your mind into a perpetual beta state to keep up. The rules of the digital landscape are being written on a daily basis, so there can be seismic shifts mid-production, or even after launch. If you don’t find a way to cope with that new reality, you’ll go mad, and your projects will never be realized.
I find myself creating ‘theories’ more than concepts these days. While I always start from a core idea, I try to keep my mind loose, to be receptive to a range of executional options. I also try to use as many digital platforms and tools as possible, so that I constantly know where the edges of the playing field are.
It’s impossible to predict where tomorrow’s innovation will take us. All we can do is stay fluid and adapt. All we can do is be water, my friend. We can’t predict the future, but we can be smart about building a mobile foundation that will be able to react and take advantage of this constantly evolving digital landscape.
My business card says ‘Andrew Miller. Copywriter.’
I’ve never been satisfied with that title. I respect it, but don’t feel like it defines me well. ‘Copywriter’ to me sounds like something that is hanging on from the days of Madmen. I know it’s a strong calling card in the world of advertising, but as the world of advertising is stretching on a daily basis into ‘the world of creativity,’ I struggle to understand how the term can keep up.
Traditionally a copywriter wrote the words that would appear in advertising. They would write scripts for television commercials, and headlines and body copy for print ads. I do all of those things, but I feel like that is only 10% of my job description.
I also design websites, create mobile apps, build interactive experiences, create ways to visualize data, figure out the best way to use Facebook, develop campaigns that live on Twitter, have meetings not just with directors and photographers, but also event planners, software engineers, coders and hackers.
I know I’m not alone. I know these duties are the new standard for advertising creatives. Maybe that’s why a much broader cross section of industries are now interested in having conversations. Being a copywriter in 2012 feels like a tremendous education in modern creativity. The experiments and the failures feel more valuable than ever as we are all hacking our way to figure out which way leads up.
So, what title do we put on our business cards? (err… LinkedIn profiles?)
Writing TV spots and snappy headlines is the foundation. It’s the kind of thing we’re called on to do in a jam these days. There’s a time and a place for it. But more and more so, in a world gone fully digital, there is an open-source, beta-mindset of trial and error that we are expected to engage with, create ideas around and give advice about without blinking an eye.