Editor's Letter

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"Every great marketing manager I knew didn't care if they had their job the next day." That's how one prominent creative director sums up the MO of the truly creative client. If not exactly practical, it is certainly stirring career advice for the creatively driven (and, therefore, successful) marketer.

If that call to arms is a little sacrificial lamb-flavored for you, here's another concise summary of the ways of the innovative marketer: "A brand needs a strong sense of self, and, man, you need people who believe in stuff. You can't test your way through it."

The spirit of both comments is that great work comes from marketers who have strong (and, well, good) ideas about their brand and are willing and empowered to act on the great ideas they see from their creative cohorts. That empowerment can come from a surplus of testicular fortitude, certainly, but it's even more refreshing when it comes from a corporate culture that encourages creativity.

That's what we're recognizing with our first annual Creative Marketers report. The inaugural list includes those advertisers who have done meaningfully creative work, who have oriented themselves to pursue creativity and who have understood their brand and their audience in some special way. Some choices were obvious, like Burger King-a marketer that most ad watchers would describe as "risk taking," but one that realized that trying to please everyone represents a lot more actual risk than doing naughty ads. Others, like GE and U.K. smoothie outfit Innocent (incongruous juxtaposition intended) were less obvious, but distinguished themselves in different ways. GE by attempting to inject innovation into a corporate behemoth, Innocent by doing the right thing by its brand, its consumers and (I hate to say it but) people in general, and the planet.

There are others in the report for whom buzzwords like consumer control and engagement aren't just conference circuit gab. Consumer-generated content is being adopted by more marketers with varying degrees of efficacy, but Converse (p. 56) did it early and did it well. The company's commitment to "brand democracy" put Converse's originality positioning to work in a new way-"rather than communicate [originality], the strategy let the brand embody it by becoming a platform for consumers' own creativity."

And if last issue's lesson was collaboration, you can check out a big demonstration of that in the Xbox profile (see p. 64)-the tale of a marketer looking not to just launch a new campaign around a new product but reorient the entertainment world around its game-changing 360 console. To do so, Xbox has brought together an array of creative partners and actually made them work together. What global marketing director Don Hall calls "a multipoint collaborative model" could be the future of brand relationships. Or, it could be a train wreck. Whatever. It's an attempt to do something interesting.

To round out our look at creativity on the client side, we present some handy hints for marketers (p. 6) and the bonus track, Clients Unleashed (p.74), where we learn what makes marketers tick outside of the boardroom. Which, of course, prompts one very big question: Do you know your client's favorite sandwich?

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