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Blogs & Comment

Do we really add anything?

Phil Lynagh is managing partner of LightBlue

“I was out for dinner last night with an old friend and mentor and he said something which was infinitely brilliant in its simplicity. Let me paraphrase: “What we must do is add something, doesn’t matter what exactly, but we must add something, something that wasn’t there before.” I think that pretty much sums up what our industry should be about. It describes why we exist and defines the paradox that is commercial creativity.

The question you have to ask, of course, is do we really do that? Do we add something? Does our work leave legacies to be proud of? The sad realisation is that 99 per cent of it probably doesn’t. Take a look at the mediocrity that surrounds us, the big idea-free campaigns that batter our senses every day. Sometimes I wish I did something else for a living, but when push comes to shove I actually love my job.

Now, I know love is a bit gushing but it also happens to be a prerequisite for what we do because our industry is a vocational one. I’ve always thought of agency people as a sort of ROI-focused clergy with an unhealthy interest in revenue generation. The similarities are obvious. We believe fervently in something that is intangible and nigh on impossible to prove; we are constantly under attack from the doubting Thomas clients and the serial non-believer procurement departments; while the temptations of the easy way via mediocrity are omnipresent. We put up with an awful lot in our quest to get some of our better creative ideas to see the harsh light of day, so I absolutely believe we owe it to ourselves to make sure we are always adding something, something positive.

On another sad note, all we do is talk to the public on behalf of brands, yet it appears that the public don’t like our kind too much. In fact, advertising and PR folks ranked 10th on the most hated professions list. I don’t think it’s anything personal. It’s more to do with the work we produce and what that work leaves behind. Anyway, we can take solace in the fact that we love what we do and are infinitely more likeable than traffic wardens.”

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