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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : May June 2007
T H E B U SINESS dir ect ors are doin g their own retouching, p hotography a nd art - work, I would think it was just a bit more boring but I’m not in it so I don’t know. It was certainly terrific to be working with lots of t alented people from different areas.” Chandler, however do es agree s with Nobby that there was a certain amount of fre edom g iven t o cre - at iv e peop le ba ck then t hat he doesn’t think exists now: “Clients and quite a lo t of agen cy people were slightly less sophisticated than they ar e now and thought that the crea tive p rocess all owed cer tain freedom to c rea tive p eople an d when they took that f reedom and misbeha ved i t was se en as th ose naughty little creatives, the naughty little art johnnies,” Chandler sa ys. “It was fun, but in my entire career I only saw absolute self- indulgence a couple of times.” Qualifying that maybe he’ s just a silly old fart baby boomer, he thinks the current standard of adver tising is rubbish: “It’s not just Australia, I spent a couple of y ears in Europe and it was crap there as well. It was a bit better in London, but it was still pretty crappy,” he says. Chandler’s answer is fo r agencies to hi re the t al ent ed old fart s: “There are too many re ally good people out there wi th real brai ns, real experience and real talent who are just not working, but a gencies won’t hire them because those peo- ple cost money and the problem is older experienced people have been gotten ri d of t o take o n you nger, cheaper, supposedly mor e gr oovy talent. But I’m afraid t hat has n’t translated into better work.” Nobby’s philosophy about getting the best creative work out of pe ople is to be really soft on the people and really hard on the work: “You have to re-define what fun is i n this mil - lennium but the bottom line is that if people aren’t relax ed enoug h to laugh and trip over in front of e ach other you are not going to get great work beca use 99% of everythi ng that walks in the door is stupid shit, it’s the one percent that is t he little bit of genius that finds itself in there and to get this y ou’v e got to b e relaxed enough to laugh about t he 99% of the stupid shit,” he says. However, t he danger with micro- management, research and commit- tees is n o-one feels co mfortab le throwing out the 9 9% stupid sh it becaus e t here is a lot o f som bre faces in the room, a scena rio tha t makes Nobby miss the old days. Not only is advertising supposedly more a ccountable tha n it used to be, r ender ing Lord Leverh ume’s ‘no t k nowing which 5 0% of my adv er tising is working’ p roblem obsolete, there’s a lo t more str ess around t he work. Within 1 0-sec- onds of something going to air i t’s being analysed about whethe r it is good or not. “That’s pretty s tressful, i t’s di ffi- cult to have a l augh if by the time you get some thing on air , it has already been deemed cr ap by t he bloggers on the CB Blog! In ter ms of mo ney, th e days of th e long 40 CA MPA I GN B RIEF Mike Chandler at the Xmas CB Legendary Lunch Bobbi Gassy at a recent CB Legendary Lunch Scott Whybin (right, with TBWA\Whybin CD, Andy Blood) at a CB Legendary Lunch in Auckland in 2005 lunch and three-week s hoot s are more or less over. At Sa atchi’s we still enjoy the odd long lunch, but what people at Saatchi know is tha t for every long lunch there’s proba- bly a long weekend where they are working. That’s just n ot th e s tuff that makes the trade press.” Nobby recalls being stunned by a Nobby: “Having thirty different ways to solve a brief in terms of different media avenues and different challenges is a lot more fun creatively than writing a TV spot in the morning and going out all afternoon and getting smashed, so I think fun has become a bit more constructive than it used to be.” statistic in the early 90s estimating a third of the advertising community in London had been retrenched yet productivity went up : “That g ives you some indication of how fucking slack the business was in the 80s. I remember hearing stories of agen - cies with e ight creative dire ctors and they got rid of four of them and the other four realised if they didn’t want to go they might have to turn up in the afternoon and work a bit harder. It was an incr edibly indul - gent, fat industry back in t he 80s and I think we are still pa ying the pr ice for tha t. We haven ’t be en metaphorically fat - I’ ve been fat - for a long time, this is an incredibly lean business.” Rob Belgiovane, co-founder an d executive creative director of BWM Sydney, concurs that there was a lot more money in this busine ss in t he late 70s through to the mid 90s, so there was a much higher re turn for the effort which changed dr amati- cally after the accreditation s ystem was dismantled in 1997, something that toned down the excess. “Once all that changed in regards to guaranteed media revenue with a lot of organisations n ow fee-based there are probably less returns and consequently a lot less excess,” says Belgiovane. “Before, the money was available to pay the artisans to work on the ads. A s bud get s have decr eased and our margins h ave decr eased then we’ ve had to r e- think how an ad is achieved. What was once done by Face - the typog- raphy and retouching - is now done on a Mac in twenty minute s. It doesn’t necessarily mean the quality is a lot worse, most people wouldn’t notice.” From a personal perspective he loves it more now than ever: he’s been working in the industry since 1978. “The transition across to dig- ital media and content development has made it a lot more interesting and the challenge of staying ahead of the game as business transitions into a digital business has made it more engaging. There’s new stuff to do, there’s new types of people in the organisation that you never had in advertising agencies before, s o it’s more inte resting,” Belgiovane says. “A lot of the people who say it was more fun back then were also younger then. If I surveyed the mid-twenty something people now I bet I’d find they are still having a lot of fun. The people who have chosen advertising at this point in time are having a ball.” Speaking of having a ball, when CB fi nal ly t rack ed d own Scot t Whybi n, chai rman of Whybi n TBWA, he joked that he couldn’t call back all week because he was always at lunch. (This might be true, but he was also working on several big government campaigns about to launch). “The Al lan Fel s’ d eci sion on remuneration means you have to work harder for lower margins, that’s c ertainly the case but I still think it is more fun than working down a coal mine,” he s ays. “We haven’t got the luxury of a lot of people doing fewer things, people now have got higher workloads but at the end of the day it still has to be fun because you have to keep it looser. Compared to the 80s i t ? MAY/J UNE 2 007
July August 2007