Tuesday, December 07, 2004

:: adgruntie :: Creative in UK vs US

+ The difference between UK and US advertising. Apparently one of the fundamental differences is how "creativity" is viewed. In the US creativity means "edgy" while in the UK it has retained more of it's original meaning- and doesn't have a negative connotations to clients. Here's an excerpt from the article:
Viewed from commercial America, British advertising looks like something bent out of shape by a culture so consumed with embarrassment it can't look a salesman in the eye when he's making a pitch, particularly if that pitch is laden shoulder high with emotion - love of country, family or God. From a mainstream US perspective our quirky elliptical leave-them-guessing advertising approach is kind of charming, but kind of unworkable too in America, with its fragmented audiences and ethnicities, its raging sensitivities and, above all, its huge risks. American advertising is risk averse because there's so much at stake with those huge clients and their mega-spends. It means everything is researched to death so all backs are covered.

The style and culture of advertising agencies themselves - and particularly the giant Madison Avenue houses - are very different too. There's size for a start. A major like Ogilvy and Mather will have 3,000-plus people working in its New York office. At that scale the whole thing has to be run in a very grown-up way, and the "suits" (client handlers) dress very sensibly indeed. It's more ... businesslike. Everything seems older too. The big agencies have senior statesmen who are practically Blake Carrington, whereas we know that in London agencies the over-50s are quietly defenestrated in favour of children with spiked hair and drop-crotch jeans.

In the US giant agencies things work differently. The client is God for a start. You work with him; you get to know his business and you give good meeting, meetings at which consensus is reached to an almost Japanese degree. It is very process driven.

In Britain, everything, but everything is secondary to the creative work. Its authors, 32 going on 10, are often considered too difficult and sensitive to talk about it to grown-ups, however, so they have to be represented by the suits. And the work, oh the work. I have to admit here to a mean-spirited little British pleasure here. When I'm in the piss-elegant marbly glories of a US provincial city's best-hotel-in-town I channel hop the TV into the middle of the night, looking for the kitschiest, klutziest, krankiest programming and advertising. To a British eye a lot of US advertising still looks and sounds astonishingly old-fashioned - even 1970s-ish - and formulaic. And a lot still appeals straight to the emotions in a way that has you feeling, like Oscar Wilde on the death of Little Nell, that you'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.
I'd say this is definitely worth a read. Some interesting points are made and it brings up some questions for American ad agencies to ponder.
Since starting on my advertising career path, I have always been in awe of the creativity that seems to come out of UK agencies. There's something that they seem to have their finger on that American agencies seem to stay away from for the most part. And even more strangely, when you see those "Best Ads You've Never Seen" specials airing, everyone seems to love the UK creative. But yet, we still don't seem to have much of their creativity in the ads that air on a regular basis here. Quite a shame really.

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