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Creatives In Conflict
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My current comments about this article:

Creatives In Conflict

 

According to Dr. Roger Von Oech, author of "Whack on the Side

of the Head" and president of Creative Thinking Inc., the one

common trait that all creative people, "Creatives", have is

that all Creatives believe that they are creative. It's kind

of like the Rene' DeCartes', the father of French philosophy,

"I think, therefore, I am".

Simple though this finding is, it is the result of much

research. And the ramifications of this study are important

to remember for both in-house and outside advertising/pr

entities in dealing with the keepers of the cash, i.e.

management. For latent in every transaction, there is the

possibility -- more likely probability -- for a conflict if

the management also considers him/herself to be a Creative.

So, this can be many people -- not just "artsy" types as

commonly thought of -- including computer scientist, military

strategists, doctors, lawyers, indian chiefs etc.. and even

taxpayers this time of year.

At issue is the conflict over C O N T R O L. Clearly, the

IRS wants it... as do all of the rest mentioned above. They

want control to achieve their goals. BUT SO DO YOU. And

while it is economically obvious that you cannot walk away

from every creative manager that wants to control his/her

destiny -- especially in the '80s with the resurgence of the

entrepreneurial spirit --it's not so obvious how you team up

and work together where conflict exists.

When in these situations, you need to ask and answer two

major questions before proceeding with your creative

solutions: What is the

of the difference: Is it about

standards, methods, goals or facts? And what is the

for the difference: Is it attributable to roles, information,

or perception. The synthesis of these answers will provide

an action plan focused on the areas of agreement.

NATURE OF DIFFERENCE

: Of the

mentioned above, perhaps none causes

as much trouble as that involving differences in standards...

especially with others who consider themselves to be a

Creative. It's not that conflicting values don't have

benefit in a collaborative brainstorming session. It's just

that at some point there must be agreement on creativity, or

the advertising/pr budget will remain frozen.

I think that it is obvious who has the control in this

matter. Therefore, it is critical for the servicing party to

get an accurate fix on the standards of the Creative who

needs to be pleased. Very often, this is not explicitly

accomplished. And yet when done, this disclosure takes what

would normally be percieved as a rejected creative idea and

puts it into the perspective as one concept that just didn't

measure up to another's standards. There's no need to lose

face here. Creative standards are personal, not absolute.

And yours are just as good -- I'm sure even better in your

own mind!

Fortunately, the remaining three natures of differences, i.e.

methods, goals and facts, seem less arduous to address due

either to the knowledge base that has been accummulated

regarding advertising effectiveness (though continual

advertising failures make you wonder) or to the frankness

with which the differences are expressed..

: Next to Standards, methods are the next most

difficult to resolve primarily because they are the embodi-

ment of those standards. For example, I hate mailing labels

on any first class, letter sized envelope. That's a standard

value. As a consequence, I have to use certain methods to

"personally" address my letters, all of which are more costly

than four-up cheshire labels. Pennypinching managers would

fail to appreciate the difference.

: My goal in expending extra time, effort and money in

addressing first class letter sized mail is multifold.

First, I want it to get there. Secondly, I want the

recipient to open the envelope. And third, I want to create

the right impression so as to predispose the recipient to

open my next letter.

Since no one spends money for a negative outcome, the

problems associated with goals are more inclusive and elusive

than exclusive.

For example, just what was Cullinet's goal in using Bobby Orr

(he's now a Boardmember) in their

Super Bowl

advertising. Who knows of him in Alabama, Mississippi,

Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio and all those other great football

states that had millions watching their native sons? Or is

there something

going on between Cullinet and Bay

Banks which also uses Mr. Orr ("Oh, hi Bobby")? Then again,

stretching the point to absurdity, Bobby and Bob Crane, the

Treasurer of Massachusetts, are known to be close friends.

Could Cullinet and Bay Banks be competing for an investment

by the State? Or could it really be as straight forward as

Cullinet just wanting national exposure? (At any rate, the

specific goal(s) escape me, except for the fact that Bobby

Orr sounds and walks remarkably like Lee Iacocca who I heard

was running for President in '88 and I'm betting on Bobby to

take over Chrysler!)

: One color verses two/three/four; full page verses

four quarter pages in the same issue... in different issues;

bleed verses no bleed etc. are mechanical facts that are well

documented by statistical analysis.... The Board wants Super

Bowl exposure; or we have only $250,000 to spend; or the

CEO refuses to buy space in Magazine X are other facts of

life that constrain or expand an advertising/pr campaign.

REASON FOR DIFFERENCES

: Again, of the reasons mentioned above, none causes

more consternation than that involving differences in roles.

Though this next statement will draw considerable fire, the

way I see it, management (creative or not) has the right and

the responsibility to direct and control all matters pertain-

ing to the company. That includes advertising and public

relations. Consequently, it's hard to understand why

should require complete control

over creativity or be frustrated by the lack thereof. For

those so bothered, happiness can more easily be found in

other companies where the creative control will be

relinquished for whatever reasons.

A personal case in point: I have both a colorblind uncle and

a friend who are tickled pink (they don't quite see it that

way..it's more greenish - grey) that their non-colorblind

wives coordinate/shop/and layout all of their clothes. These

men have delegated their dress to others more qualified...and

have received compliments ever since. It's a question of

role responsiblity... and roles are heavily influenced by

resources (good eyes) and reputation (compliments).

: In informational differences, parties have

simply been exposed to different information.... and

therefore have a different understanding of the problem or

what what alternatives make the most sense. It takes little

imagination to pictures the communications problems between a

manager who has been privately warned that he needs a "big

win" n-o-w and a proponent of creative three step campaign.

On brighter side, information can be easily dispensed. Where

it is factual, the matter is simply reduced to an educational

excercise. Where it is emotional or personal as above, it

requires the establishment of trust -- both ways.

: Two people may view the same event physically,

but perceive it in two different ways. Their history makes

each of them see different aspects of the same situation or

arrive at different meanings.

As you have observed, I perceived the Cullinet ad quizzically

because of my understanding of celebrity endorsements, suit-

ability, awareness etc. DESPITE MY RESPECT FOR THE

EXCELLENCE OF MR. ORR AND CULLINET, I question whether a

athlete cum businessman (he's not Lee Iacocca, yet)

who played

(a second tier

tv sport) is the

best wat to garner attention during

of the

year. However, I do feel differently about the Bay Banks'

ad. It's a regional ad and he is

an excellent regional

NET NET

T

The advantage of diagnosing any creative conflict in the

manner discussed is that it enables Creatives to understand,

appreciate and accept the validity of each other's points of

view. Further it helps to resolve conflict when the parties

involved have a clear and common picture of where everyone is

coming from. Ultimately, if you cannot or will not assume

the support role and be creative around another Creative's

standards, then you must be prepared to risk dollars... the

one standard, promulgated by Uncle Sam, and espoused by us

Sottile's Winning Action Team
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Tactical Marketing Agency

"Marketing Tactics Make Corporate Strategies Happen!"
                                                                   John Sottile