Recently as part of my ‘management training’, I was “asked” (or, rather, forced) to take part in an emotional intelligence test. I won’t go into my mediocre results but, to focus on the positive, I did score very high on ‘happiness’. Apart from being Irish and been blessed with a sarcastic sense of humour that few seem to get, it left me thinking ‘why?’
I’m guessing one of the reasons is that when creative people get to make stuﬀ, they’re happy. They’re doing what they love: creating new things. As a creative person in an in-house creative department, I’m allowed to make stuﬀ, lots of it, every day, and I can see the results in real-time.
For a good part of my career, I was fortunate enough to work in Ogilvy, in New York City. It was amazing training and an eye-opening experience. I learned obvious ad lessons from the best ad legends that still ring true today: don’t be boring, good work is based on a truthful insight, understand your target, etc., etc. But, as a wild, wide-eyed young creative, I didn’t always think about the cold hard fact Sir David Ogilvy promoted: “Your role is to sell; don’t let anything distract you from the sole purpose of advertising.” And maybe that stays with me today, as the creative director in an in-house digital company. I know my purpose is, at the end of the day, to sell – even if I entertain while I do that.
There is no fat in an in-house creative department. Simply put, creative has to work. We don’t have the ability to lose any accounts or the option of replacing one. We are the account and we know it better than anyone. Luckily, I work for a fun lifestyle brand that’s basically selling amazing dining, beauty and ﬁtness experiences at half the price. Of course, there are challenges like budgets. We never have a million dirhams to make a TV spot. And not being part of a creative global network means you don’t always have easy access to local planners. But the opportunities are huge. And the results are in real-time.
Let’s not forget that we can work with the same production teams and the same directors as any agency. In our latest campaign we worked with The Misﬁts here in Dubai. The idea is based on a lovely insight from Cat Booth. The idea is that every time we save money, we get a real thrill, or a moment of joy. A little voice inside us shouts ‘Hooray!’, or at the very least thinks, ‘That’s pretty cool!’
Finally, what’s really refreshing is that in-house you’re surrounded by energetic people with that start-up, ‘let’s do it’ mentality. No jaded creatives here. And this is even more encouraging, since it’s estimated that worldwide digital ad spending has risen by 17.6 per cent to $333.25 billion this year alone, so we need to keep making lots of stuﬀ. Stuﬀ that’s not boring. And stuﬀ that works.
Maybe that’s why I’m so happy to come to work every day and why I scored so high on happiness. Hmmm… You know, it might be the ﬁrst time ever that I’ve been happy I took a test in the ﬁrst place.