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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : May June 2007
T H E B U SINESS THE MACQ UARI E DICT IONARY defines f un as playful amusement while its net re lati on Wik ipe dia diverts questions on fun to recr e- ation - both pretty much sums up the d ominan t soci al att itude s t o mixing work and fun these days. Is wor k even meant to be fun? asks legendary creative con sultant, Jack Vaughan, the former creativ e director of Th e Campaign Palace, Sydney in i ts 80s heyday: “There’s a huge school of thought - from the biblical: ‘work by the sweat of your brow’, to today’s unrelenting share- holder de mands - tha t sugges ts work sh ouldn’ t be anythi ng but productiv ity wi thout distrac tion. Have fun on yo ur o wn ti me, if there’s any le ft, ” say s Vaugha n, who admits that it fee ls indulgent even thinking about work being fun in a time when people are thankful to even have work, let alone ‘fun’. “That wasn’t a lways so, an d maybe that imme diately answers the question about whether it’s le ss fun now. Cr eative work does seem much mor e commod ifi ed to day. People can’t count on l oyalties the way they once might’ ve. This isn’ t just the c ase in our business; th e very t erm ‘ workplace relations’ sounds like people being screwed.” Vaugh an s tres ses th at th e re al ‘fun’ of advertising has always been in the work, not t he ext rin sic, peripheral stuff: “People talk about parties, and lunches, an d c astings, and shoots, and road-trips and pho- tocopying thei r private parts and getting rat- faced and - I just thi nk all that was, or is, ju st the safety- valve stuff. Advertising c an be like sitting for final year exam every two or three days. It’s natural to want to let of f steam, because this exam pressure happens all your worki ng life. But cracking the idea is, to me, the real fun. You know , w hen it keeps you up till all hours bec ause you’ve had the id ea and you can’t sleep and you can’t stop all the exe- cut ions crowding y our brai n and your A4 pad,” says Vaughan. Most of his peers bel ieve Saat chi & Saatch i Austr alia EC D David Nobay (Nobby to f riends a nd foe alike), is still having plenty of fun. Nobby says when he g ot into the business there were heroic urban myth- like st or ies ab out cr eative directors throwing suits out of win- dows and creat ive p eople t ell ing clients to go fuck t hemselves , b ut even 20 ye ars ago it wa s ta lked about as something that had hap - pened in the past. “Wh at ’s happene d is we have swung lik e a pendulum from cre- ative people and advertising people arrogantly assuming they cou ld do anything they wanted to and clients were just there to pa y the bills t o another extreme with clients believ- ing they are connected to every sin- gle stage of the creative process and that essentially they can microman- age a job from beginning to end.” He l ikens i t to going from a mas - ter/slave relationship to a slave/mas- ter relationship, from co mmunism to fascism, both equally wrong and unsustainable. 38 CA MPA I GN B RIEF Vaughan: “There’s a huge school of thought - from the biblical: ‘work by the sweat of your brow’, to today’s unrelenting share- holder demands - that suggests work shouldn’t be anything but productivity without distraction. Have fun on your own time, if there’s any left.” Jack Vaughan (left) and Warren Brown If one de fine s ‘fu n’ as get ting pissed all afternoon and doing any - thing y ou want, a nd w riting on e headline and assuming t hat’s the job done then no, it’s not like that anymore and thank God for th at, says Nobby: “These days to be a creative person and not be fascinat- ed by your clients’ business makes you a dinosaur and if you a re fasci- nated by your clients’ business you probably don’t have t ime to go out and get pissed and ignore mo st of what your clients tell you. From my point-of-view, what I find truly fun about this business if we have got a much wider pal ett e to pl ay w ith than we have ever h ad an d I f ind that really fun. Having thirty differ- ent ways to solve a brief in terms of different media avenues and differ- ent challenges is a lot more fun cre- atively than writing a TV spot in the morning and going ou t all after - noon and getting sm ashe d, so I think fun has become a bi t more constructive than it used to be.” But while Nobby w elcomes the more collaborative approach ta ken in advertising today, he warns there is a fine line between involvin g more people in the creative confer- ence and having decisions made by committee. “Even though in the old days it was patently wrong to think you were the only creative voice in the room, one of th e go od t hings about those times if you were given a lot more space a nd a lo t more trus t to craft the wor k. Bob Isherwood tells me about his e arly days working in Lon don whe re from the point the client bought the work they trusted the creative to go out and do it and they wouldn’t in a thousand years have exp ected to pour over photos and negatives and lean over the shoulder of the pho- togra pher. And I think that trust leads to a lot more magic, it’s great that t he n ew cr eat ive mod el is about lots of voices in a room but the negative side of that is a lot of the time people don’t know when to leave.” Micromanagement comes from several places, according to multi- award ed creative consul tant Jay Fur by, who d oes n’t mi nce hi s words : “One trend is the rea lly unsucce ss ful ex-creative turned manager th at we are seeing more and more. A rise of the direly hope- less ex-creative that sees their only way forw ard as moving into the manage ment class,” Furby s ays. “These are the people that rule with the whip b ecause they hate cre- atives for being able to achieve what they never could, due to their own distinct lack of talent... and there- fore take every opportunity to c on- trol and chastise. These are the peopl e that wi ll be lucky to be remembered in the urinals of histo- ry, let alone the annuals. They are becoming more prevalent,” he says. Mast er commer ci al s di rect or David Denneen of Filmg raphics, says there seems to be more deci- sions made by the client rather than the creatives at the agency about who gets the jobs: “Whether that’s true or not, that’s what they tell us when we miss out on a job - that the client made the decision. It seems like the cr eat ives at the agen cy don’t s eem to have t he standing they once had to decide what’s good and bad, what’s right and what’s wrong and what’s cre- ative and what’s not,” he says. MAY/J UNE 2 007
July August 2007