News & Views

Event Debrief / Firestarters

by Contagious Team

What is creativity? A person, a process, a department? Creatives, planners and Google Squared alumni address this all-important question

Seven speakers from across the marketing industry shared their response to the provocation that 'Creativity is Not A Department' at the latest Google Firestarters event curated by planner Neil Perkin

Don't restrict creativity, encourage it

When did 'being creative' become 'being a creative'? This question, posed by three bright young people from the Google Squared digital marketing programme, kicked off the evening. Calling somebody a creative signifies that everyone else is not, they claimed, and this kind of thinking restricts the fluid nature of creativity.

The three challenged the creative industry to develop a new approach: 'In order to be more creative, we should challenge our creative set-up.' In this fast-paced world, creative success depends on a willingness to experiment and explore, which means opening up the creative process. Creativity is most definitely not a department.

Creativity comes from everywhere and everyone

Next to take the stage were executive creative director Bryan Rowles and strategy director Stephanie Newman, from 72 and Sunny, Amsterdam. Using the Magna Carta Holy Grail collaboration between Samsung and Jay-Z as a leading example, Bryan and Stephanie discussed the importance of creating as a team.

To create amazing work, everyone needs to be involved in the creative process, they claimed. Not only creatives and planners, but also brand managers, designers and perhaps most important of all, the client. Input is appreciated, no matter where it comes from. This boundary-free approach enables the free flow of creativity and allows everybody on the team to feel creative ownership. 

Creativity is a formula

Creativity = (diversity x stimulus) / fear. This formula, originally conceived by Doug Hall but presented by Ann Wixley, creative director, OMD, London might just be the key to creative success. It's all about allowing different people to come together and providing stimulating input while making sure that everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves. 

Though creativity should not be limited to a select few, something can be said for having a creative department, claimed Wixley. A physical space in which people with a shared agenda can discuss and create can be beneficial, as can having those few dedicated people willing to sweat for an idea, distil it and make sure it works. In order to apply the creativity formula, a department might just be needed.

Crelling: the love-hate relationship between creativity and selling

The final speaker of the evening, David Wilding, head of planning, PHD, London, started by saying: 'We have a finite ability to create.' Based on the limited amount of time and other resources and the obsession we have with selling means that 'creating' can become quite fragile.

There is a risk of the sales culture taking over at the expense of creativity. Wilding told the gathered Firestarters that we need to protect the creativity in the face of the urge to sell things and that we shouldn't waste our finite resources worrying about selling. And maybe that's why agencies do need to have a slightly detached creative department.

Keep an eye out on Neil Perkin's blog Only Dead Fish for the announcement of the next Firestarters event in the autumn.