Few would debate that creative development services are one of the most critical skill sets provided to advertisers by their agency partners. Thus, as agencies the world over adjust to their employees working remotely it is natural to wonder how this dynamic will reshape creativity?
“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” ~ Theodore Levitt
How, for example, will working remotely impact the gathering and imparting of knowledge, insights and inspiration between advertiser and agency? Between creative directors and their teams? Between agencies and their production resources?
The answers to these questions, and others, require multi-disciplinary inputs that will necessarily impact creative workflows and timelines. Whether in the context of the creative briefing and approval processes, creative asset management or the trafficking of finished work, advertisers and agencies alike will need to rethink the procedures that guide this process from end-to-end.
Once creative processes have been reviewed, mapped and guidelines issued, stakeholders must shift their attention to “execution,” which is central to successful innovation (doing new things right).
The first item to be addressed is the creative brief. Relationships in which advertisers and their agency partners had implemented and honed a solid briefing process, pre-COVID, will find themselves ahead of the game. Evolving the tools and procedures related to both the joint and internal agency briefing process is infinitely easier than creating them from scratch.
During the creative ideation phase, a remote working environment presents a unique set of challenges, the least of which is the collaborative process between creative leadership, art director, copywriter, content producer, etc. To this end, in a London Business School article by Richard Hynter the author mused about what the pandemic can teach us about creativity. This included his belief that practitioners will need to focus their orientation and efforts on three components of creativity; expertise, thinking skills and motivation. How agency creative management adapts its approach to address these areas will greatly aid and abet its creative development process… and outputs.
For most of us, it is likely that over the course of the last several months, we’ve logged more time on web-conferences, Zoom meetings and conference calls than one would care to. Welcome to the “new normal.” Along the way, we have experienced the subtleties of presenting data, proposals and yes, creative using these tools. While not ideal, being able to hone one’s skills to embellish the presentation of creative concepts is essential to secure client buy-in to an agency’s creative recommendations. How these presentations are staged, who attends and how feedback is shared will be critical to the creative approval process and, in turn, the development timetable.
Wash, rinse and repeat…
With client sign-off secured, ad agency creative personnel must set about briefing third-party vendors (i.e. production houses, illustrators, animators, digital video editors, etc.) to solicit proposals, begin work and to coordinate the ad production process. Managing the production workflow across multiple organizations, with employees working remotely will require adept project management and creative asset management skills along with a robust technology platform(s) to facilitate. Having a centralized creative file management system, will greatly assist the creative development, review, approval, tagging, delivery and tracking phases of the process, whether work is completed at the office or remotely.
Based upon casual observations of the creative that has been produced and placed since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year, agencies and advertisers have done an excellent job adapting to the new environment. Continuing to refine the processes already employed and implementing new tools and guidelines to assist a remote workforce will only help drive creativity on a post-pandemic basis.