Creativity is something of an obsession in the advertising business.
Ever since the industry moved past the simple promotion of product features in favour of a more artistic approach in the 1960s, Madison Avenue executives have grappled with the best ways to not only capture a consumer’s attention, but his or her imagination, as well.
But while we all know creativity when we see it, the actual process of producing something fresh and exciting is significantly more difficult to figure out. For help, we consulted the wise words of marketing legends past and present, in hopes of learning something from the experiences of geniuses like Mary Wells Lawrence and Dan Wieden.
The quotes we found were enlightening, and we think people will find them useful regardless of whether they work in advertising or not.
After all, in the words of advertising pioneer Bill Bernbach, “Creativity is the most practical thing a businessman can employ.”
1. “Creativity is like washing a pig. It’s messy. It has no rules. No clear beginning, middle or end. It’s kind of a pain in the arse, and when you’re done, you’re not sure if the pig is really clean or even why you were washing a pig in the first place.” — Luke Sullivan, author of “Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This”
2. “Nothing comes from nothing. You must continuously feed the inner beast that sparks and inspires.” — George Lois, co-founder of Lois, Holland, Callaway
3. “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” — Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple
4. “An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.” — Bill Bernbach, co-founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach
5. “Too many people, including the ad industry, believe the future is something that happens and just rolls them over in it’s wake.” — Cindy Gallop, former chair of Bartle Bogle Hegarty
6. “Creative ideas flourish best in a shop which preserves some spirit of fun. Nobody is in business for fun, but that does not mean there cannot be fun in business.” — Leo Burnett, the Leo Burnett Company
7. Lee Clow of TBWA/Chiat/Day:
8. “If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world, it will come through the expression of your own personality, that single spark of divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature.” — Bruce Fairchild Barton, co-founder of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn
9. Dan Weiden of Weiden + Kennedy:
10. “Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you need to — restraint is something I admire. At the end of the day, it is still a battle between good vs. crap.” — Dave Droga, founder of Droga5
11. “You can’t just be you. You have to double yourself. You have to read books on subjects you know nothing about. You have to travel to places you never thought of travelling. You have to meet every kind of person and endlessly stretch what you know.” — Mary Wells Lawrence, co-founder and former president of Wells Rich Greene
12. “Creativity and innovation are about finding unexpected solutions to obvious problems, or finding obvious solutions to unexpected problems. We should use our creativity to provide better businesses and solutions rather than constantly trying to disrupt what people are doing.” — Rei Inamoto, chief creative officer at AKQA
13. “Advertising is not that original. For me, it’s,’ How can I put all the things together, combine and mix it into something that’s unique?’ And sometimes when I really need to think, personally, I need a cigarette.” — Elvis Chau, executive creative director and partner, Anomaly Shanghai
14. “When you accept that you may fail, you can accomplish anything. Fear can be so debilitating. Every day I’m faced with difficult decisions, but losing the fear helps me make the right choices.” — Linda Kaplan Thaler, chair of Publicis Kaplan Thaler
15. “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” — David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather