Editor's Letter

Published on .

As part of the multifaceted commemorative activity around our 20th anniversary, we asked assorted creative types to answer the question, "What is creativity?" It's sort of an unreasonable query and we were impressed and amused by some of the answers we got (read them in our March issue). Listening to the stories of those featured in our Special Report this issue brought another difficult question to mind: What is a creative?

Certainly many of the individuals profiled here represent a wide range of disciplines, approaches and company affiliations. The Barbarian Group is a great study of a hard-to-pigeonhole company made up of a truly diverse group of people, all of whom are considered creative contributors. The company's approach, says partner Keith Butters, "shuts down the notion that if the word 'creative' appears on your business card, you get to go into a magic room and come up with ideas. Everybody comes up with ideas." Given the astounding volume and quality of the campaigns the company has helped bring to life, the approach seems to work. But is this everyone-is-creative approach dangerous? (Does it give undue license to that junior client who thinks his ideas are "creative"?) Well, maybe, but it also has the potential to bring needed new perspectives to creative problem solving on a larger scale. And creatives who are able to work on a larger scale have humongous opportunities right now. Given that the wider business world is, or at least is talking about being, more convinced of the value of creative as a means of growth, the "creative" (in the agency CD sense or in whatever sense you imagine him or her) becomes a potentially bigger player on a bigger stage.

We've got a fairly dramatic example of this larger-scale creative scenario in cover subject David Droga. Inarguably one of the leading stars in the advertising industry firmament, Droga turned his back on the role of worldwide CD for the riskier life of an entrepreneur/new business model explorer, aiming at fashioning a creative entity that can rise to a whole new range of brand and business challenges. Reading his account of what his new company, Droga5, will be calls to mind some of the other advance descriptions of new branding companies we've heard over the last few years. Sure, all the buzz phrases are there-content, experiential branding, multidisciplined talent assemblies. But what convinces us of Droga's drive to actually do something different is the level at which his sights are set.

Droga recently attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he felt, as he comically describes it, like that "junior DM writer from Belarus at Cannes." No disrespect to that guy intended, it's just a really vivid way to sum up the feeling of going from Big Swinging You Know What in the ad world to "just an ad guy, just a creative guy," among the world's elite business and government leaders. That he was invited in the first place is interesting in itself an an indicator of the changing attitudes toward creativity at the corporate level, as was the theme of this year's Davos confab: "The Creative Imperative." "That's right," says Droga. "At the highest levels it was being acknowledged that the world needs more ideas and innovators. Companies need to get more creative and stay more creative to remain relevant and governments need to think laterally to solve many of their biggest issues. It appears being a creative person is no longer just a charming and interesting profession. As inspiring and humbling as Davos was, it was as validating and motivating as any event could be. I really felt there has never been a better time to be a creative businessperson."

So, what is a creative? You tell me. And in formulating your answer, keep in mind the glorious creative continuum that goes from that junior DM writer to the mandarins at Davos creating a whole new global agenda.

Teressa Iezzi, Editor, Creativity/AdCritic.com

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