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Why Speed Matters

The Influencers 80 Add to collection

INFLUENCER: Fortnight Collective's Aimee Luther on the power of compressed creativity

Why Speed Matters

Procrastination is the thief of time, as the old saying goes. It’s also the thief of money. And creativity. So, when Mindshare announced its new 24-hour-turnaround approach to media ideas earlier this year, it received mixed reviews. The more traditional types shuddered at the prospect of further devaluing creative thinking, whilst sceptics labelled it an excuse to put yet another logo on yet another media chart.

But, is speed always a bad thing? South Park is arguably one of the funniest shows ever, yet each 22-minute episode is made in just six days. Borrowing elsewhere from popular culture, comedies such as The Thick of It and The Office are famous for their relaxed approach to the ad lib – the power of the fleet of foot dose of inspiration. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone view speed as the key ingredient that allows them to be culturally relevant and topical, believing a tight schedule prevents them from overthinking ideas. To quote Trey Parker, the show’s primary writer: “I always feel like, ‘Wow I wish I had another day with this show.’ That’s the reason that there’s so many episodes of South Park we’re able to get done because there just is a deadline and you can’t keep going. Because there’d be so many shows that I’m like, ‘No no it’s not ready yet, not ready,’ and I would have spent four weeks on one show. All you do is start second guessing yourself and rewriting stuff and it gets overthought and it would have been 5 percent better.”

At Fortnight Collective, we follow a similar model and in so doing liberate strategic and creative development from the shackles of politics, group think and lengthy processes and so see speed as an asset and a weapon against industry lethargy.

“There’s no time for politics, over-thought process, and hierarchy to hamper momentum. Instead, intuition, bravery and the rampant desire to be brilliantly different from the others come to the fore.”

In fact, it’s not dissimilar to the titillating pressure that agencies revel in week in, week out when pitching. In two short weeks agencies come together and muster their greatest minds to produce their greatest thinking. There’s no time for politics, over-thought process, and hierarchy to hamper momentum. Instead, intuition, bravery, and the rampant desire to be brilliantly different from the others come to the fore.

So, agencies can do it, and at Fortnight Collective we already are. Pitch pressure and first-class thinking are our bread and butter. With our little black book full of the finest freelance creatives and planners in the land, we pull together three or four senior creative teams on each project, keep our clients at the heart of the process, and produce fine work. It’s the joyful antithesis of the traditional agency model – where all too often collective thinking and multiple stakeholders result in the lowest common denominator and clients are kept at arm’s length.

There are two important watch-outs to this model; craft and culture. At the twilight of the fortnight, the winning work is approved and ready to go into production. This is where the foot is eased off the pedal, the time warp ends, and the craftsmen take their place around the table. Their immediate involvement ensures the idea is realised to perfection, without risk of it loitering on desks and withering to a shadow of its former self.

“...Speed can in fact be the ultimate guardian of the creative idea. It is born and nurtured at speed, away from the critical eyes of time.”

In my experience, big agencies often equal big retained relationships, big fees, big timelines and big knives for which to kill a big idea with a thousand cuts. And so, speed can in fact be the ultimate guardian of the creative idea. It is born and nurtured at speed, away from the critical eyes of time. And just as the creative and planning heads are working under pressure, the clients are too.

The second watch-out is culture. Working with a collective might sound like a heartless approach with freelancers being used and abused, shipped in and out without a care. Au contraire. We cherish our talent like the best of them. And with Gold for the IPA CPD firmly tucked under my belt, I am a great advocate for creating and maintaining a positive culture. There are no underpaid juniors, no running away with freelancer ideas once they’ve turned their backs and only those who devise the ideas work to help craft them. We’ve found that some of the most gifted people in the industry, including mums returning to work and young talent with social media skills, respond positively to the freedom and support provided by our Collective.

And it clearly works. Our agency model shows that time is indeed creativity’s biggest enemy. By its very nature, creativity is a glorious mix of instinct and learned experience. So, trust your gut, be brave and revel in the output. It really can be that simple.


Aimee Luther is MD of Fortnight Collective

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Fortnight Collective, Thu, 28 Feb 2019 09:39:16 GMT