Quotes and Quotes

Each month I feature a variety of quotes from different personalities on different subjects. However, they all center around one topic: Creativity. Enjoy!

 

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. – Erich Fromm

There is nothing like a dream to create the future. – Victor Hugo

A good ad should be like a good sermon: It must not only comfort the afflicted, it also must afflict the comfortable. — Bernice Fitz-Gibbon, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Horace Mann said, ‘Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.’ Let’s paraphrase that tonight. Let us be ashamed to LIVE without that victory. — Rod Serling “A Most Non-Political Speech” May 31st 1964, Delivered by Dick Van Dyke/ Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Time is what we want most and what we use worst. – William Penn

Like the musical score, a mission statement is only as good as the performance it inspires. — Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

The heart of creativity is discipline. — William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Let’s gear our advertising to sell goods, but let’s recognize also that advertising has a broad social responsibility. — Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Why do musicians compose symphonies and poets write poems? They do it because life wouldn’t have any meaning for them if they didn’t. That’s why I draw cartoons. It’s my life.⁠ —Charles M. Schulz⁠

Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions, it rarely moves anyone. — Fairfax M. Cone, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

 

Special Post – Beyond the Majestic: The Final Chapter

This is the third and final installment in the Majestic Trilogy. After several months of waiting for the next developments in the story line of the original “Stopover at The Majestic“, and its sequel, “Beyond the Majestic: The Evil Doer“, comes the Final Chapter. This special blog post highlights this last installment.

Majestic Hotel, Lake Charles, LA, circa unknown

Previously at The Majestic

As we were about to leave the last part of the Evil Doer sequel, the lobby was a scene of chaos. Mr. Curtis, still somewhat dazed, began to slowly move around and see to the cop. It would be a few minutes before emergency personnel would appear on the scene. In the midst of all this, Mr. Curtis wondered if the explosion were merely coincidental or if it was a plan by the GM to help him get away and remain on the Galaxy’s Most Wanted List.

That would have to be a question left for another day. Why was the GM/Time Traveler doing all this? Why did he want the Majestic transported to another time? Why be so reckless? Too many questions. Too few answers, thought Mr. Curtis. Now what?

As he tried to make his way around the immediate chaos where the cop lay, Mr. Curtis felt unsure of himself. He got more woozy and unsteady. Then as he got to the cop, Mr. Curtis suddenly fell to the floor, unconscious. Their search for answers would have to wait.

 

And Now, The Final Chapter

“Get that damn light out of my face!,” exclaimed Mr. Curtis. “Relax sir,” intoned the stranger. “Just checking your reflexes and your cornea.”

“Who are you and where am I?,” asked Mr. Curtis. “You’re in the hospital. I’m Dr. Zooski. You’re doing just fine, all things considered,” he said.

“Whaddaya mean?,” retorted Mr. Curtis.

“You’ve suffered a concussion and been in a coma, sir,” explained the good doctor.

“How long have I been out?,” inquired Mr. Curtis.

“Three months, fourteen days, seven hours and some assorted minutes,” said Dr. Zooski.

“Three months!,” exclaimed Mr. Curtis. “I’ve gotta get outta here! Wait, how’s the officer who was injured nearby? I need to talk to him. I need to find the GM of the Majestic, find out where he went,” explained Mr. Curtis.

“Hold on, sir. You’re not going anywhere for awhile. You just woke up from a three-month coma and we want to make sure you’re okay,” said the doc. “As for your officer friend, I’m sorry to say he didn’t make it. His internal injuries were more than he could overcome. And I have no idea about the Majestic GM,” said the doctor.

Mr. Curtis then realized that now he was on his own if he wanted to get to the bottom of the GM’s involvement with the explosion and the status of the Majestic. But where would he go and what would he do? These questions naturally troubled Mr. Curtis and also made his headache worse. No matter, he obviously wasn’t going anywhere for some time and now had more time to think and consider possibilities.

 

******

 

It has been several weeks since Mr. Curtis awakened from his coma and he was feeling much more like his old self. He thought in order to start gathering some clarification on the explosion, he’d return to the scene of the crime, the Majestic. He would talk to management and find out what, if anything, they knew. Maybe a few clues would emerge.

What he learned was that the explosion was no accident, it was arson. Evidence on the scene indicated that the former GM had indeed played a part if not planned and executed the whole thing. Question is: Where is he now? And why did he do it?

Mr. Curtis found himself wondering if other, additional sites have been targeted by this fellow and if they would alter the Space-Time Continuum. Curtis had to find out and subsequently stop him.

If the GM had been set on “moving” the Majestic into the future for whatever the reason, Mr. Curtis thought, wouldn’t it make sense for him to set himself up as general manager of the futuristic Majestic and have it serve as his HQ for more evil doing?

With this in mind, Curtis set out to locate him and confront him, and, hopefully, put a stop to the madness. So, with his time-traveling cane, Mr. Curtis set off to the future, the 24th Century to be exact. This is where he felt the GM had settled with the new Majestic.

Upon reappearing inside this futuristic Majestic, Mr. Curtis wasted no time in searching for the GM. In a matter of minutes, he found him. Not ever knowing the man’s name, Curtis opted for an introduction of himself and immediately knew the GM recognized him. After a few moments of surprise, the GM collected himself and introduced his person to Mr. Curtis. However, the look of surprise and concern were still evident on the GM’s face.

Nevertheless, the GM did not try to run away. Instead, he remained calm and in conversation with Mr. Curtis. He even acknowledged he was aware of what happened to the old Majestic and felt bad about the explosion in the historic landmark. He was not aware, however, that the officer at the scene had died. He also never admitted responsibility.

Mr. Curtis laid it out clearly for him who he was and his mission: Making the GM pay for his crimes. The GM seemed unflappable and unmoved by the possible repercussions. As such, he turned away from Mr. Curtis, answering no more questions, and proceeded to walk away.

Just then, Mr. Curtis picked up his walking stick and adjusted the very top where the indicator light showed “stun.” Pointing it toward the back of the GM, Mr. Curtis activated the setting and in a flash the GM crumbled to the marble floor unconscious.

Because a crowd had begun to gather around the two men, Mr. Curtis flashed his badge-like credentials and assured the gathering that all was under control. After a few minutes, Mr. Curtis had the GM moved to a private room where he could question him more and, if needed, to transport him back in time to the old Majestic or, possibly, even to the Space-Time Continuum Enforcement Council for trial.

Upon the GM regaining consciousness, Mr. Curtis continued with his interrogation. During questioning, he learned that the GM had indeed been responsible for the Majestic arson explosion in order to give himself a diversion for escape into the future. He had also rigged it so that he would in effect take the Majestic with him into a future setting so that he could reestablish his headquarters.

When pressed, Curtis also learned that the GM apparently acted alone in this evil deed but the GM never admitted it. Mr. Curtis thought that even if the GM acted alone, it was not beyond the realm of possibility that there were others who had been influenced by the GM and would follow him to other sites for more destruction and damage to the timeline.

Having received the information needed, Mr. Curtis decided it was time to move on and take the GM with him. He would transport him to the Enforcement Council for trial and processing. Holding up his walking stick, he merely stated, “Space-Time Continuum Enforcement Council, two to transport.” Then, poof, they were gone in an instant.

The evil GM was turned over to authorities, tried and convicted. Mr. Curtis had repaired the Space-Time Continuum and, for the moment, all was back to a rather normal state. Unfortunately for the Majestic, it would be torn down in the early 1960s for a parking lot. Thus, the Majestic of the 24th Century would cease to exist.

After the trial, Mr. Curtis returned to the Majestic of the Sixties before its demolition and was rummaging around the evil GM’s office when he came upon an oddly shaped locket. It had a ruby red crystal in the middle which was obviously designed to be pressed into some form of action. Upon closer examination, Mr. Curtis discovered that it was already set to activate and, not only that, but was currently set to emit a beacon of sorts. 

Mr. Curtis felt a deep, unsettling tenseness in his gut when he realized the beacon was “live” and transmitting. Was this some sort of homing mechanism and to whom was this signal being sent? In the pit of his soul, he didn’t really want to know but he feared it was already too late.

~

Creativity Predictions for 2023

Well, a new year is upon us, for better or worse. What will happen, nobody knows for sure. I came upon a recent article that provides some insight as to what may occur. These predictions come from a variety of sources, all tied into the world of creativity in some form or fashion.

I concur with the author of this article when he indicates that the beginning of this new year doesn’t feel so exciting or filled with promise. We’ve had three especially tough years, dominated by the pandemic, collapsing supply chains, a war in Europe, an energy crisis, political chaos, and recession. What fun!

Tom May of the UK publication Creative Boom has gathered the best predictions for what will happen to the creative industry in 2023 from some leading voices. While this is UK focused, it no doubt has resonance with US counterparts. This may be considered a lengthy read but well worth it.

1. The economy will contract

There’s no way of sugar-coating it: we are in for hard economic times. Jesse Reed, co-founder of Order is among those predicting that 2023 will see a continuing contraction in marketing spend globally, as spending power is sucked out of the economy. And unfortunately, that means that creatives will have to work even harder to secure business. But it’s not all bad news, he believes.

“Smarter brands don’t see marketing spend as discretionary and will know that in a downturn, their creative marketing can help them to take up a bigger spot in the shop window,” says Jesse. “So in many ways, it’s a positive opportunity for creatives to maximize the impact of their work in grabbing a bigger market share for their clients’ brands.”

And it’s not like there isn’t room for improvement. “The last few years have been characterized by brands throwing spend at digital advertising, which has become less effective every year as platforms become saturated, customers wise up or simply struggle to differentiate,” says Jesse. “Good creatives with an empathic understanding of their audience and a talent for taking ideas where their client’s competitors fear to tread should have no fear of 2023. They’ll be in high demand.”

Above all, then, it’s about being flexible and ready to react to a fast-changing world: not just now, but for the foreseeable future. “2022 will be defined as the year everyone realized 2020 wasn’t a blip,” says Jesse. “We’re now in the epoch of the perma-crisis. For brands and the creative industries that serve them, it’s highlighted the importance of continuously being agile in calibrating tone and messaging in their creative campaigns and advertising. Brands need to understand what’s prominent in their customers’ minds and what’s leading their decision-making – something that is in constant flux at the moment.”

2. Prompt invoicing will prove crucial

While there may be opportunities in a spiraling economy, that doesn’t mean there won’t be multiple dangers lurking. And Geoff Bretherick, creative director at Fablr, offers a cautionary tale from the last 12 months.

“2022 was a year of witnessing major shifts within our clients’ industries,” he says. “A lot of ups, but a few downs. Everyone’s been reshaping from the pandemic, and from what we’ve seen, taking more risks with bigger opportunities. In theory… great! That said, we had an unfortunate experience with a couple of partners that started as major contracts, and then suddenly, the organization lost their CEO, CMO, and over 50% of staff. Where does this leave graphic designers? Not in a great spot!”

The lesson Fablr has learned is the importance of keeping your output in sync with invoices. “In one case, we had let three months of invoicing go unpaid because we thought there was mutual trust in our partnership,” Geoff explains. “Indeed, maybe it began as so. But when C-suite personnel start dropping, their ‘word’ means very little. To that end, we still highly recommend, if you don’t already, billing at a consistent monthly rate, as opposed to the percentage of work done to date. Because right now, ‘We’re good for it’ means peanuts.”

3. There’ll be a tight focus on costs

John Ramskill, executive creative director at BrandOpus, echoes many agency leaders in thinking that the bottom line will be all-important in 2023, both for studios and the clients they serve.

“Increased costs have resulted in our clients wanting more for less – even more so than previous years,” he points out. “This has meant that we are getting better at focusing our thinking sooner and aligning our teams so as not to waste time and money.

“Fast and fluid lines of communication have been made easier by being back in the studio and having quick conversations on the fly, rather than having to schedule calls over teams. Being more efficient AND effective allows us to meet the needs of our clients while still delivering the high quality of work that BrandOpus has always produced.”

Jo Barnard, founder and creative director at industrial design consultancy Morrama, has also been feeling the strain. “The brief feeling of relief seeing the back of Covid at the beginning of the year was short-lived,” she recalls. “2022 has been another challenging year with cuts in creative spending as businesses look hesitantly towards an unpredictable 2023.

“This pressure can quickly translate into exhaustion and burn-out as we fight to keep the pipeline of work flowing and hit our own growth targets,” she continues. “So in 2023, we will instead be seeing creatives focus on growth in other ways: working on internal projects, deepening their education and building a culture of support and well-being both within their teams and their network.”

4. Retaining talent will be a real challenge

On that last point, studio heads must strike a careful balance: motivating creatives to do more and better without driving them away. Because as Abb-d Taiyo, co-founder of design and impact agency Driftime, says: “The great resignation is real! It has become increasingly harder to find great talent, let alone keep them fulfilled in the team and company dynamic.

“In the UK, a fifth of workers are expected to leave their roles according to a study by accountancy firm PwC,” he adds. “Although there are many reasons, two of the primary ones are purpose and balance. When we look to invest in our people, it’s going beyond the obvious of ‘increased pay’ and starting an open conversation with your team on what they want.”

For Driftime, this investment has been actioned in the form of complete autonomy, four-day work weeks, unlimited paid holidays, well-being perks, and incentives for each employee towards the cost of living crisis.

5. Employees will get more power

Is one way to retain talent giving it more power and influence within the agency? Rachel Cook, managing director at Thompson, believes so. “This year, tired of everyone agreeing with each other, we disbanded our non-executive board, binned off our leadership forum, and introduced an employee board,” she says. “The aim was to introduce a healthy challenge, diversify the voices in the room, and give the whole team a chance to decide how we do things. And it’s been a roller coaster, with learnings at every turn.

“2022 taught me if you ask for honesty, you’ll get it, and you need to be ready for that,” she continues. “The first meeting was about employee benefits, and the team turned up with a ten-page printed, stapled document of feedback, asking for loads more holiday, flexible working and heaps of other great ideas. I admit I wasn’t quite ready for it, but the feedback was great, and I’m so glad they took it seriously. We needed to hear it.”

Rachel has also learned that it pays to act fast. “We’ve stayed true to our promise to action something from every Employee Board within six weeks of the meeting; within a couple of weeks, we rolled out an extra three days of holiday per year. The positive repercussions weren’t just because of the free days off, but because it helped build the trust and confidence of the team that we weren’t just smiling and nodding, but actually acting.

“Finally, I’ve learned that the benefits of doing good stuff are bigger than you might imagine. The Employee Board told us that they thought the forum would be good for them to get insight into how business works, give them confidence, look good on their CV, and be a great recruitment message, too. And I love hearing the team telling potential recruits or clients about the employee board: they took a small idea I had in the shower and made it much more awesome.”

6. The creative profession will redefine itself

Typically, in a recession, big companies see design and other creative services as an easy cost to cut, to help balance their budgets. So Max Ottignon, co-founder of Ragged Edge, believes the industry must counter this by reframing itself. “We need to change the perception of creativity from a luxury to a necessity,” he argues.

“In 2022, we’ve all had to get pretty good at thriving in adversity,” he continues. “2023 doesn’t look like it’s going to offer much respite, so the onus is on us all to demonstrate that creativity can give businesses a vital edge when times are tough. It’s time to prove how valuable our skills are. That starts with asking the right questions in the first place. It means digging deep into the underlying business challenges and genuinely solving those issues in ways that feel tangible and devoid of marketing bullshit.”

Max believes this is in our power to do so, as long as we strike the right attitude. “This is a time for clarity, rigor and a healthy dose of pragmatism,” he says. “But it’s also a time when creativity can be the difference between success and failure. And if we can prove we’re irreplaceable when times are tight, just imagine the possibilities when things pick up.”

All that, of course, is easy to say, difficult to do. But Kirsty Minns, executive creative director at Mother Design, offers some advice on a personal level. “We entered 2022 with such uncertainty after the pandemic and have since navigated even more global challenges, from economic unrest to the climate crisis,” she explains. “And a lesson I used this year is to adopt a beginner’s mind.

“A client of mine was obsessed with this idea called shoshin, which originates from Japanese Zen Buddhism,” she explains. “It refers to the idea that the more you know about a subject, the more likely you are to close your mind to further learning. My interpretation of this was to challenge how things were done before, embrace unorthodox ideas and test new ways of working. New working models in the office were tested, new methods of coming up with ideas were embraced, and new ways of inspiring the team were implemented.”

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Quotes for the Soul and Wherever!

It’s that time of the month again! Time for assorted quotes from a variety of folks. Take them to heart and add them to your diet as food for your soul. Enjoy.

It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one. — Alex Osborne, Advertising Hall of Fame

The heart of creativity is discipline. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

Consumers are statistics. Customers are people. — Stanley Marcus, Advertising Hall of Fame

Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing. — Benjamin Franklin, Advertising Hall of Fame

Human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake. ― Rod Serling

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in art, in music, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.  – John Steinbeck

Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humor, which is awfully important in this day and age. Humor has a tremendous place in this sordid world. It’s more than just a matter of laughing. If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack. – Dr. Seuss

You can’t be a creative thinker if you’re not stimulating your mind, just as you can’t be an Olympic athlete if you don’t train regularly. – Sir Ken Robinson

Success or failure in business is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacities. — Walter Dill Scott, Advertising Hall of Fame

Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

How do stress and anxiety impact us as creative people?

What can we do to change our responses? In a recent article posted on his Talent Development Resources site, Dougles Eby features several professionals who address anxiety and creativity. I don’t know anyone among my creative colleagues who has not dealt with anxiety in one form or another. This post may give you some insight into the world of creative anxiety.

 

Heidi Hanna, PhD is the Executive Director of the American Institute of Stress. She writes in an article on her site about one way we can help ourselves deal with stress: humor

“A few years ago, thanks to my friends at the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, I was introduced to a new type of “mental massage” – one that enhances circulation to parts of the brain that often get left out of our day to day activities, such as perceiving amusement, irony and joy.

“Healthy humor is like massage for the brain. It initiates the relaxation response, shifting brain chemistry towards positivity, creativity, and collaboration.

“Physically, humor decreases levels of toxic cortisol and inflammation in the brain and body, while increasing neural efficiency, energy production, circulation, and overall health.

“Our current chaotic and constantly connected society is filled with stressful triggers that keep our brain-body systems stuck in a state of chronic stress, speeding up the development of both physical and mental disabilities and illness.”

 

In his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, creativity coach and psychologist Eric Maisel, PhD asks,

“Are you creating less often than you would like? Are you avoiding your creative work altogether? Do you procrastinate? That’s anxiety.

“Do you resist getting to your work or marketing your work? That’s anxiety.

“Do you have trouble deciding which creative project to tackle? That’s anxiety. Do you find completing work hard? That’s anxiety.”

In his many years of counseling as a psychotherapist, he has found, “Anxiety regularly stops creative people in their tracks and makes their experience of creating more painful than pleasurable.

“It stops would-be creative people entirely, preventing them from realizing their dreams. Anxiety is the number one problem that creative people face — and yet few even realize it.”

In his book he describes “many of the sources of anxiety in a creative person’s life” and provides “little-known anxiety-management techniques” to help you manage that anxiety.

One of the challenges creative people face that affects anxiety is meaning. One related video clip:

One measure of fighting anxiety I have found to help is to break up my anxiety into pieces. Since I may not be able to deal with the entire problem at a single sitting, I’ll be more likely to deal with the individual pieces. What’s really worrying me and why? If I can answer this, I’ll know how to better deal with the factors that make up the problem . . . and my worry.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Emotional intelligence creates climate, enabling creativity

Creativity is all around us. We can’t escape it. There are those of us whose livelihood depends on creativity, the designers, artists, writers, etc. There are countless others who are affected by creative surroundings and may not realize it. Whether or not we do, we all have emotions that definitely affect creativity.

But what if we feel creatively deprived? What if a designer feels one day that he/she just doesn’t feel inspired? What if we feel we’re having an “off” day?

A recent study in the Journal of Creative Behavior shows the power of emotional intelligence to make creativity happen. The study from the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence found that emotionally intelligent supervisors create a climate that benefits creativity and innovation in those they work with.

Zorana Ivcevic Pringle, Ph.D., provided the synopsis of the study, highlights of which are outlined in this blog post. Dr. Pringle is a Senior Research Scientist at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She studies the role of emotion and emotion skills in creativity and well-being, as well as how to use the arts (and art-related institutions) to promote emotion and creativity skills.

What do emotionally intelligent supervisors do? First, they are skilled at reading employees’ emotions, such as realizing when someone is upset or disappointed or when they are worried about changes at work. They not only can read emotions but acknowledge them explicitly.

Second, they help employees channel their feelings toward achieving important goals. They inspire enthusiasm and they model decision making that takes into account both optimistic and pessimistic voices (and concerns and hopes behind them).

Third, emotionally intelligent supervisors understand how different decisions or events affect people’s experiences at work. And finally, they are able to successfully manage their own emotions, as well as help employees when they are upset or frustrated.

The just-published Yale study asked three groups of questions: One group of questions asked people to describe their supervisors’ behavior. Another group of questions asked about people’s emotional experiences of work. Finally, the third group of questions asked to what extent people have opportunities to grow and make progress at work and how often they are creative at work.

The study results show that when supervisors acknowledge that employees have feelings and that these emotional experiences matter, the work climate becomes more positive and supportive. Employees described dramatically different emotional experiences if they had supervisors who acted in emotionally intelligent ways or not.

The quality of relationships spilled into feelings about employees’ duties and tasks, and that, in turn, affected creativity and innovation in what they accomplished. Our study suggests that supervisors’ emotional intelligence is a job resource for their employees that helps both their wellbeing and successful performance at work.

When people were asked how they feel about work in their own words, two-thirds of the top feelings mentioned by those whose supervisors were emotionally intelligent were positive, while 70 percent of the top feelings mentioned by those whose supervisors were not emotionally intelligent were negative.

Those whose supervisors were emotionally intelligent mentioned being happy three times more often than being stressed. By contrast, those whose supervisors do not show emotional intelligence most often said they were frustrated and stressed. 

How do supervisors and leaders make a difference for their employees’ ability to be creative? Organizational behavior scholars Jing Zhou and Jennifer George have shown that emotionally intelligent supervisors know that emotions provide information about ourselves, the environment, and those around us.

Emotionally intelligent supervisors are able to notice employee dissatisfaction, recognize that dissatisfaction conveys information about a real problem, and can find a way to approach this problem as an opportunity for improvement. Emotionally intelligent supervisors can manage their own and employees’ emotions to help with creative work. They can recognize when people are overly optimistic and can provide informative feedback to prevent settling on ideas prematurely and inspire persistence.

The Yale study shows that supervisors can create a climate where employees have opportunities to grow and are inspired and motivated in their jobs. Supervisors who acknowledge that employees cannot leave emotions at the door, who recognize employees’ feelings, understand where they are coming from, and who help employees manage their feelings, will have both happier and more creative employees.

The results are relevant for anyone who influences others, such as teachers working with students or parents with their children. The emotional climate we create will influence both how those around us feel and what they are able to do.

This holds true for various sets of employees and those independent contractors whose specialties involve creativity and positive emotions. Indeed, the corporate world needs to be aware of this more than ever, especially when an increasing number of employees are rethinking a return to the office.

Here’s to positive re-enforcement of emotions amidst a favorable environment of creativity!

 

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

 

 

The Power of Creative Excellence and the Loss of an Icon

Every once in awhile it’s nice to get another perspective on creativity and its influence in the advertising industry. So this week the creativity blog focuses on an interview with Rob Reilly, the creative lead of WPP. We also acknowledge the passing of an icon who truly embodied the power of creative excellence, Dan Wieden. Below are some excerpts from that interview conducted by Carly Weihe.

In sitting down with Reilly, his passion for creativity and the high quality standards he puts into his work is clear. Under his creative lead, WPP won the Most Creative Company of 2022 at Cannes. Animated and engaging, it’s no surprise he is the chief creative officer for the largest advertising company in the world. With a little over a year under his belt at the company, his outlook on the future is a positive one, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and brand consistency as key factors for continued success.

I have a photograph of the Fearless Girl in my room. I discovered that you had a hand in bringing it to life.

That’s one of the best things someone’s ever started an interview with. I think the accomplishment you can have is to create something that has an impact long after you leave this earth. When the stock brokers come out, they have to face her and remember to do the right thing the next day. The City of New York wanted to move her into a park because she was causing a lot of traffic. We were like, ‘no, we’ll move her to Tokyo or London instead because everybody wants her.’

So, we showed them the comp of the only place we would accept, State Street, and that’s where she is today. We don’t know what the return on investment is on that piece of work, because who knows if it inspired, some president or someone starting a company or finding a cure to a disease, because they were inspired to be a bit fearless.

You’ve been a part of other social justice campaigns such as #NYCSaysGay. How do you leverage real problems to inspire people?

Well,if you’ve seen anything that I’ve done or any presentations I’ve made, I really talk about creativity being today’s most valuable asset. So yes, the NYC Love was a campaign that we did against the Don’t Say Gay issue that they had in Florida. (The campaign was digital billboard advertisements strategically placed across Florida that emphasized NYC’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, in partnership with New York City’s mayor Eric Adams.)The idea is great. But the media placement is what makes it really great.

The creative headlines are fun and interesting and pretty punchy, but it’s a fact, that you’re able to buy the media in the States basically telling people to leave Florida, and the state of Florida couldn’t stop it. You need some real ingenuity and real creativity to do that. I have high hopes for creativity being taught to children in schools eventually. We’re teaching our kids a lot of things, and we should be teaching them to use their brain and creative ways to solve problems.

Too many people think, “Oh, I’m not creative.” But you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. You just have to use your brain in different and unique ways to solve things. I feel like more and more creativity is going to be used to get us out of sometimes the messes we create as a country and as a world.

How does hiring talent play into that mission?

I think younger people want to work for companies that are doing the right thing. Whether you choose to work at a company or whether it’s the couple of brands you choose to support, you’re watching what they do. But you also want to have a good career and make money and these two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

I think we’ve got to continue to attract unique and different types of individuals by doing the right things for them, and then the right things out in the world. I think where we’re struggling when we get into the diversity and inclusion aspect. I feel like we got to do a way better job of making sure all types of people with all types of opinions and voices and backgrounds are included and this is the business.

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Know Thyself and That Which Makes You Tick . . .

Quotes. Funny thing about quotes: They can be instrumental in getting over a point of view or conveying one’s opinion or setting oneself apart from others. In general, they’re supposed to be unique, jaw dropping and memorable. Here’s the latest batch out of my electronic grab bag of quotes by various folks from within the advertising community and beyond. Enjoy!

 

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. – Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

You have to know yourself … really know what makes you tick. — Shirley Polykoff, Advertising Hall of Fame

Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is. — Fairfax Cone, Advertising Hall of Fame

We don’t grow unless we take risks. Any successful company is riddled with failures. — James E. Burke, Advertising Hall of Fame

Success or failure in business is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacities. — Walter Dill Scott, Advertising Hall of Fame

All creative people want to do the unexpected. – Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance. – Bruce Barton, Advertising Hall of Fame

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field. – Niels Bohr

Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

Bill Bernbach

The place to start in advertising is the basic selling appeal. An appeal that fulfills some existing need in the prospect’s mind, an appeal that can be readily understood and believed. — Morris Hite, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

On Imagination – Another’s Thoughts

“To see, to hear, means nothing. To recognize (or not to recognize) means everything.” – André Breton

This week’s creativity blog shares another’s perspective. I’m on her email list and this particular email dissertation I found quite interesting. She goes by the name “The Used Life” and is an artist extraordinaire.

Here are some of her thoughts . . . what are some of yours?

I think of my art as an articulation of my inner life. That all of the scenes that take shape in my collage art (and poetry, too) also exist within me. There is a mystery in that which I love: that is, the mystery of human imagination. Indeed, it is a rare occasion when I am able to explain clearly and succinctly what I believe my artwork means. I like not knowing. No, I love not knowing. It is the mystery that makes it meaningful.

It is also, I think, the element of mystery that creates something akin to a mystical or religious experience—the feeling that, when I am creating, I am acting as a conduit, or channel, for “something else”, something almost otherworldly or unreal.

But, what’s the “something else”? What do I think is really happening in those moments, and what is the role of imagination in that process?

First, let me clarify by saying that I don’t define “imagination” as the ability to conjure images at will. That, I think, is a very small part of what comprises our imaginations. Here are some thoughts.

Imagination is a loss of separateness.

It is the recognition of ourselves in another—in another person, in an animal or landscape, in a character from a novel, a scrap of discarded paper, or a cardboard box. I would suggest that this “moment of recognition” is where the feelings of awe, of ecstasy, or even love that often accompany or precede creativity come from.

“Imagination is the outreaching of mind…the bombardment of the conscious mind with ideas, impulses, images and every sort of psychic phenomena welling up from the pre-conscious.” – Rollo May

What psychoanalysts might call a kind of projection, or a “leaky” subconscious. Imagination is the outpouring of inner images onto the outer world, such that a third image—a new image—may be born.

Imagination is a way of perceiving.

Maslow talks a great deal about what it means to see “unitively”, suggesting that many self-actualizing people encounter the world in a manner that allows them to see the sacred in the everyday. In the essay, “Theory Z”, he suggests self-actualizers may be divided broadly into two groups: those who experience episodes of self-transcendence (i.e., artists, poets, musicians, other creators), and those who are more pragmatic thinkers (i.e., businesspeople, entrepreneurs, politicians, scientists).

The difference between them: pragmatic thinkers deal with the here-and-now, operate within the confines of concrete reality. Transcenders are able to perceive the stuff of everyday life within the context of eternity and, as a result, are able to perceive (or feel they are perceiving) the “sacred” or “miraculous”.

What I think: the latter see imaginatively. What Maslow refers to as the perception of eternity is a function of imagination. It is the natural “outreaching of mind”, the involvement of the subconscious, or preconscious, primordial images and the emotions they carry. That’s where those feelings of “eternity,” “otherworldliness,” “surreality,” or even of encountering “the sacred” in the everyday (or in a work of art) come from.

What’s more: children see imaginatively. We were all, at one time, able to see imaginatively without trying…which leads me to my last point.

Our imaginations transform the everyday into the extraordinary.

Without the imaginative encounter—that is, without the fusion of inner and outer worlds—I doubt we would ever be able to perceive the extraordinary. I think we need those subconscious projections, those “leaky” images, impulses, and ideas. They tell us who we are. They help us make meaning. That outpouring of the unreal is what gives reality its shine.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Wonder What Mr. Data Would Think: Robots Creating Ads? Hmmmm.

Lt. Cmdr. Data of the USS Enterprise

Well, Data, as all Trekkers know, was an Android, not a robot. It was a very sensitive distinction in his day. Yet, one can’t help but wonder what one non-human form of life would think of another non-human form of life creating advertising in the manner humans do.

While humorous, I can just picture Klaatu instructing Gort about a forthcoming ad for NASA’s Artemis IV mission to Jupiter. (Note: Those of you not having a clue as to what I am referring, Google “Day the Earth Stood Still” especially the 1951 version)

Gort

Recently, I read where a reporter from the Wall Street Journal did an article on the role of AI (Artificial Intelligence) writing and redoing advertising. Interesting, I thought, so I made it the focus of this week’s blog post about another aspect of creativity in the early 21st. Century. My thanks to both The Journal and Patrick Coffee for lending credence to this post.

In late 2021, as states eased pandemic restrictions and consumers began flying again, travel search company Kayak needed a message that would help it stand out against bigger rivals.

Most travel ads focused on “the family reunion space, soft piano music, the get-together on the beach,” said Matthew Clarke, vice president of North American marketing for the Booking Holdings Inc. company. Kayak took a different approach with the “Kayak Deniers” campaign, which went live in January and poked fun at the rise of online conspiracy theories. In one ad, an angry mother insists to her family that Kayak isn’t real, screaming, “Open your eyes!”

Inspiration for the ads came from an unlikely source: artificial intelligence.

Kayak worked with New York advertising agency Supernatural Development LLC, whose internal AI platform combines marketers’ answers to questions about their business with consumer data drawn from social media and market research to suggest campaign strategies, then automatically generates ideas for advertising copy and other marketing materials.

Supernatural’s AI found that Kayak should target its campaign largely toward young, upper-income men, who it said would respond to humor about Americans’ inability to agree on basic facts in politics and pop culture, said Michael Barrett, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Supernatural.

“That gave us a good amount of license to zig where the category was zagging and to be more relevant, more provocative,” Mr. Clarke said of the AI findings.

The campaign has been one of Kayak’s most successful to date in driving brand favorability, Mr. Clarke said.

Marketers have primarily used AI in a creative capacity in services like creative automation, which tests thousands of slight variations on elements such as ad copy and color schemes to determine which combinations will best attract consumers’ attention.

But AI is expected to change marketing practices drastically in coming years thanks to new tools like OpenAI Inc.’s automated language generator GPT-3, which allows algorithms to better understand different languages and produce original text content, said Tom Davenport, distinguished professor of information technology and management at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., who co-wrote a 2019 paper on the subject.

Unilever PLC’s Dollar Shave Club recently began working with AI firm Addition Technologies Inc., whose platform can analyze millions of social-media posts, to help identify themes for use in marketing products that range from razors to wet wipes.

“It’s like having a machine hive mind that you can just keep asking questions because it has completely consumed all comments on the subject,” said Matt Orser, vice president and head of creative at Dollar Shave Club.

Addition also worked with ad agency Droga5 LLC to create an interactive ad campaign for the New York Times that turns headlines from each subscriber’s reading history into a visual “portrait” of that person. Some headlines were too long to fit within the portraits’ design, so Addition programmed its platform to rewrite them in fewer than 50 characters, said a Times spokesman.

AI’s primary benefit for marketers is its ability to quickly complete projects, such as brand strategy briefs, that would take humans days or weeks, giving staffers more time to focus on other work, said Supernatural Chief Creative Officer Paul Caiozzo.

When Signal Messenger LLC, maker of encrypted messaging app Signal, wanted to plan its first major marketing campaign in 2021, it turned to AI marketing consulting firm DumDum LLC.

DumDum invites marketers to discuss their most pressing challenges in brief “thinkathon” sessions, then runs those ideas through an AI platform that matches them with potential solutions based on a growing pool of behavioral data and consumer surveys conducted by DumDum to provide CMOs with outside perspectives.

DumDum presented Signal with several options, and executives chose one that focused on the fact that Signal, unlike many other digital platforms, doesn’t collect user data. They bought several Instagram ads designed to highlight how its parent, Meta Platforms Inc., targets users with their own personal data, said Jun Harada, head of growth and communication at Signal. One post began, “You got this ad because you’re a certified public accountant in an open relationship.”

Facebook responded by shutting down Signal’s ad account, according to Mr. Harada. The move came only days after Apple Inc. announced sweeping data-privacy changes that would upend the digital advertising industry.

When used correctly, AI forces marketers to consider new perspectives and avoid simply repeating approaches that worked in the past, said DumDum founder Nathan Phillips.

“You can create a dance between human and computer that changes the way you think,” Mr. Phillips said.

The idea of AI as a creative partner isn’t new, but most campaigns have positioned it as a gimmick.

In 2018, Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus released what it called “the world’s first advert to be scripted entirely by AI.” However, a Lexus spokeswoman described that effort as a “one-off,” and it still needed a human director.

Increased use of AI could potentially eliminate some entry-level marketing jobs, but it will never replace the people required to ensure that content is fit for public consumption and to prevent controversies such as Microsoft Corp.’s anti-Semitic chat bot, said Mr. Davenport, the Babson College professor.

Ad industry leaders agreed that AI will supplement, not supplant, human ingenuity. “While [AI] can unlock the creative capacity of people by making their work more efficient and effective, sometimes we need to throw logic out the window and fall back on our intuition,” said Rob Reilly, global chief creative officer at ad giant WPP PLC.

More creative firms will begin using AI tools in the coming years, but most will not position themselves as AI-driven businesses, because CMOs aren’t particularly concerned with the process as long as the resulting campaigns are successful, said Mr. Caiozzo of Supernatural.

“AI is just the tool that is freeing me to do my job,” he said. “Most people don’t care how you bake the bread.”

Like it or not, AI is here to stay and will only adjust and modernize the ad industry for years to come.

 

Notes:

Sources: The Wall Street Journal and Patrick Coffee. Appeared in the August 11, 2022, print edition as ‘Robots Turn Creative as AI Helps Drive Ad Campaigns.’

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.