Narrative and systematic thinking are both critical in advertising but too many creatives think they’re experts at both. It’s “bullshit” according to R/GA global chief creative officer Nick Law, who believes that finding a balance between the two types of creative thought is crucial in bottom up marketing.
Speaking at the AANA Reset conference is Sydney yesterday (21 October), Law said that the top-down style of marketing advertising has relied on for the past 50 years no longer works in the modern landscape. While the time-honored skill of storytelling is still signficant in creative work, Law believes how it works with systematic design is now more important.
However, he said that creatives are generally bad at recognising how to classify their own thinking.
“Creative people have this kind of hubris, a similar hubris to Michael Jordan deciding that because he was the best basketball player in the world, that we could be the best baseball player in the world,” Law said.
“They think they can do both and it’s bullshit.”
Law said that if either the systematic or narrative mode of thinking is dominant, this imbalance of tension will impact the creative that comes out.
“If the narrative thinking is predominant and more traditional ways of advertising are winning over possiblity, what we find is an agency that is great at telling brand stories, but really crap at innovating,” Law said
“When the systematic looms bigger, the problem is that [the agencies] are really good at coming up with possiblilites but they are really crap at synthesising simple brand messages.”
Law said the industry needs to move to a bottom-up media model which combines systematic and narrative creative thinking and combine those two strengths in an interesting way. Speaking of R/GA’s own campaign for Beats Music in the US, he said this type of marketing relies on marketing at the “speed of culture”.
“They weren’t stories that were started in some boardoom that we wanted to push into the world, they were stuff people were already talking about in culture that was close to them,” Law said.
“Then you have to wait and see how people respond and be ready to do this type of storytelling at the speed of culture.”