The advertising business hasn’t changed. We have.


There’s no doubt that the role of creatives has changed dramatically. This year, we have seen evidences that companies of all kinds are seeking a different kind of creatives to fit to the changing model that they operate in. WPP has announced their repositioning as a “creative transformation company”, one of their new focuses is to help clients in “omnichannel” commerce and marketplaces. Global marketers, such as Unilever, Adidas and Coty, want a simpler, faster, more joined-up approach by bringing some of the key talents, including creatives, closer to the brand.

The new breed of creatives is now being sort after not just by traditional agencies (or agency networks), but consultancies (dare I say “cagency”), media agencies, media owners, co-creation partners, and in-house.

But instead of thinking the role of creatives have changed because of the changing landscape of the business, I think that it’s the other way around.

The advertising business hasn’t changed fundamentally. We have.

Creatives no longer think, plan, collaborate, produce the same way as we did before.

We think holistically

While the overarching big idea is still the soul of it all, the choice of media and how they interact with each other has become increasingly important.

Today, the real craft is not just to take a complicated idea and reduce it to a long form TV commercial, but to make sure the message builds up throughout the consumer’s journey. What motivates us is no longer just creating that one single piece of masterpiece but constructing the intricate relations between each channel.

Having a holistic view of user experience is increasingly requested from creatives, as we are the ones who should be mastering the “how” and “why”, not just the “what” of communications.

Taking that to one level, the ultimate satisfaction comes from knowing that the idea can also be reinterpreted in different culture and market fluidly and with such richness that the impact multiplies. In order to do that, we often don’t work within a traditional creative team structure – we collaborate with creatives across any discipline, often across borders.

We act fluidly

We respond to a brief by understanding the business problems and come up with creative solutions to make that happen. The traditional format of a creative brief that limits executional possibilities no longer works, as our real challenges are creating non-traditional solutions, rather than limiting to a narrow brief.

We no longer tie ourselves up to specific titles. Copywriters are more than just crafting messages with the power of words, but the ability to tell stories through whatever means, and visualise how messages can we carried over to another medium. Anyone who judge copy just by looking at it on one single medium do not understand how real copy of today works.

We have a purpose

Brands need a purpose. Creatives do too. If Nike’s purpose was just all about making great shoes, then there won’t be a space to “dream crazy”. And the idea to keep the brand relevant by reinforcing the brand value of giving people a brave voice through an ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, among other strong-minded athletes, would never have seen the light of day.

Seeking out the right purpose to apply on our clients’ brands is becoming one of the skills that creatives should have. It’s not about just any purpose, but mapping and matching the relevant ones for the client takes genuine creativity. In a way, we transform the mundane selling into something redeeming and enriching.

We keep changing

Will 2019 brings to us a whole new angle of changes? Will the in-house creative team models continue to work (we are already seeing how Intel’s in-house function has scaled back, and Unilever is looking doubtful over the negative impacts on creativity). Will increased involvements of technologies such AI and VR means creativity and our opportunities will become broader, and our scope will be greater to make an impact for brands?

Things are changing and will continue to evolve. There is no such thing as a static model now. What changes have you experienced so far? I like to hear from you.