Laura’s Word 02 October 2012
The London International Awards 2012 judging session and ‘Creative Conversations’ week is over. My flight has touched down and I’m back in the relative calm and tranquillity of London. It says a lot about Las Vegas that it renders the noisy East End almost Zen-like in comparison - all the better to meditate on the ideas and discussions that arose as judges and young creative alike pondered the current state of advertising.
As a dubious hack – I was going to say plucky Lois Lane-type, but who am I kidding right? – the chance to hang out with high profile ad folk in the same hotel where Prince Harry so infamously partied certainly afforded me a few choice insights. Alas, I just don’t have it in me to break that one (and seemingly only) rule of Vegas. I can, however, exclusively reveal that there were no strip billiards games, or at least, none that I was invited to.
What did emerge was a swarm of chatter around our not-quite-existential-crisis. Is advertising over? Or is the product-focussed, relationship era a land of opportunity? Does advertising have a problem attracting the real innovators? Is there such a thing as a truly new idea? In the tradition of a 12-step programme, do we need to start off by admitting we’ve got a problem? Or, are these, in fact, the same discussions that have been going on since the 1950s?
And while no one had a hard-and-fast answer to any of these questions, there were plenty of innovative ideas around. The first ‘Creative Conversation’ session I gatecrashed was that run by Living Works’ Scott Elias whose company advocates creative solutions that go deeper than mere advertising. That idea was echoed in other conversations throughout the week – and while some agencies may be struggling to get their collective heads around it all, the zeitgeist is starting to gather pace with a growing number of people and shops broadening their remit. The next trick, of course, is to convince clients. In recent years they may have eschewed stable, long-term relationships to get a quick bargain, but if agencies are getting involved in product design and business solutions… well that requires time and patience on the part of brand managers.
Our week was rounded off with a trip to see Cirque Du Soleil at The Mirage – their show ‘Love’, based on the music and Abbey Road studio master tapes of the Beatles. We emerged kind of dazed, as if we’d just had some sort of shared ‘moment’. The sensory assault combined the sort of bold stunts that Cirque is celebrated for with a myriad that contained tiny tweaks of inspiration. From the four-armed skating preacher to the tricycle robots pedalled by bodiless yellow Wellington boots, it was a show so packed with detail that it seemed we all spotted something different. Little ideas cumulated to create the experiential whole. And it got me thinking. While the industry strains itself, trying to force out and find the next ‘big’ idea, there is something quite marvellous about small-scale inventiveness.
Image by Claire Dodd