There are two types of creatives in advertising. And they both do the same jobs, but with vastly different effects.
Decorators: Creatives that are decorators probably make up the bottom 95% of the designers, copywriters and other creatives. They come cheap, they’re plentiful, and they work at smaller, local agencies or bigger, corporate agencies not known for their creativity.
The pros: These people are easy to work with, because they’re often legitimate professionals who know not to put too much thinking into a problem, but just enough for the client. They don’t ask a lot of questions. And if, as an advertiser, you don’t have a lot of answers, that’s a good thing. At their worst, copywriters in this category use puns, and at best, they keep it simple, focused and straightforward, without trying to be too clever. And designers in this category often have random design elements that don’t really do any work, but the best follow the latest trends and keep things simple. These people work faster and are cheaper. They’re smart, but it’s a different kind of smart.
The cons: The quality of the message suffers when the creatives aren’t solving a business problem, but are focused on getting the creative approved by the client. They often make the advertiser the focus of the ad, rather than the consumer. They don’t understand how people make buying decisions or how to lead a brand, but they often know the “top 25 selling words.” In other words, the speed and low cost of this kind of advertising results in shallow, gimmicky ads that sound, unfortunately, like ads. You won’t see these people in the Wieden + Kennedy break room.
The creative strategist is much more curious. The strategist knows that differentiation isn’t random. It comes from finding a truth within the brand. And finding that real truth is how the brand will gather consumers that appreciate what the brand does well. This kind of creative can do more than decorate your brand to look like another brand. Instead, the strategist can turn the values of the consumers into a legitimate movement.