Creativity, advertising and the art of being vulnerable

04.11.2013
Cover for Communication Art's 2013 advertising annual

Baring and daring all

The annuals are coming, the annuals are coming! Yes, let us all mark the arrival of those year-end reviews celebrating the best of the best creative in advertising, design, illustration, interactive and photography. And praise the winners, who always make me feel like a hack, but inspire me all the same.

Communication Arts’s 2013 advertising annual is especially rich and not just for the work. (I especially loved Leo Burnett’s Staedtler architectural pencil print ad and Fiat’s don’t-text-and-drive transit posters and every public service ad—all outstanding in a very challenging category.)

But what really made me think was creative director Ernie Schenck’s column on vulnerability, or as he so provocatively phrased it “Are you willing to get naked?” (He means this literally and figuratively.) Schenck’s point is that you “can’t do breakthrough work without opening yourself to ridicule….To letting go of what we think people want from us and giving them instead the best of us.” To baring our psyches and daring self-esteem to give clients what they need, not what they say they want or expect.

Creativity is more than “cool ideas,” he says. What counts is “having the chutzpah to put those ideas out there to suffer whatever fate might come their way.” Challenging words to live by, especially in a world that commoditizes creative as “content” and mistakes “borrowed interest” for breakthrough.

 

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