Pick Pick Pick Pick It Apart

Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly etc) sings a song analysing the analysis of creative work. It starts with the first cave artists who didn't explain much about their process and ends with the advent of the DVD commentary (which the song was written for) and deleted scenes. It's a silly song and the man can't really sing, but his dive into the destructive rationalisation of creativity (JJ Abrams magic box) got me thinking about my creative industry.

I make brand campaigns. My job is to come up with ideas that capture the imagination of the client and most definitely the public. There is nothing more satisfying than releasing a great idea into the room and watching people get caught up with it. I enjoy that perfect moment because I know that for the next 3 months to a year we will spend most of our timesheets in battle. Some people have the task of picking the idea apart and some have the job of defending the integrity of the idea. There are many more people picking than there are people stitching. They use the tools of Research, Integrated Marketing Campaign Meetings, Internal Meetings, Conference Calls, Global Corporate Politics and Powerpoint to deal out the damage. Joss Whedon sings that his Art is picked apart to reveal "the tick, tick, tick of a heart", which is then promptly devoured by the ravens. Yet nobody in marketing actually wants to kill the fabled Idea. They love the Idea. They all believe they are doing the very best for the Idea, forgetting that it only takes one person, maximum 2, to successfully do a magic trick*. Big groups of people really saw the girl in half.

Whedon as an entertainment creator spends less time trying to make the work he believes to be right, but more time rationalising and explaining after the fact. His published work has a heart that is then picked at. In advertising, you spend all your time up front doing the rationalising and explaining to ensure that some heart remains when it is published. A friend of mine maintains that anybody can come up with a great idea. It's getting that great idea out that proves the quality of the creator.

Joss Whedon's song is a warning for art creators to be wary of over-analysis. I say creators of advertising should revel in creative over-analysis. That's 90% of your career after all.


*Getting the public to like some brands is a magic trick.