13 Nov Implications for how to Co-Create from “Art & Copy”

“Art & Copy” is documentary by Doug Pray, featuring iconic advertising creatives talking about famous ad campaigns.
It came out in 2009 when everyone was focused on Big Data. But that’s changed. Recently,(Internet Advertising Bureau) chief, Randall Rothenberg’s called for a shift in focus to Big Content.
From a business’s perspective, “Big Content” is creative that actually moves the needle more than the typical digital ad campaign or FSI, .001%.
How much more? Some advertising has been known to move the needle by 100%, or multiples of that.
“Are you kidding?” you must be thinking.
Nope. I was on a team that moved the needle 300%. I was very lucky to work at Leo Burnett in the days when that was considered “THE training program.” That’s when I was on the team that took Bubble Tape from an insignificant novelty to hold a spot near the cash register reserved for the fastest moving confections.
The training program contributed a lot to my skills to organize information and manage the client and agency team. But my most significant contribution to Bubble Tape success was to stand up for an ad campaign that resonated with everyone but the Leo Burnett CEO who preferred a different campaign with a “character” to fit with all those iconic case studies of Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and the Marlboro Cowboy.
Those are the case studies that went to Harvard and other business schools that established many of the assumptions that Big Data technology is built on today. But they don’t reveal the truth about how Big Content was conceived, developed and evolved.
The documentary, “Art & Copy” does.
One of the most important conversations is about Bernbach’s decision to put the art director and copywriter together to “co-create.”  Before that, copywriters sat together on one floor and art directors sat on another. The ad was written and the art directors did layout. When they worked together, they discovered the magic of integrating an image with words to say more with less.
Every agency did after that. And 20 years later when I was at Burnett, I had the honor to work legendary partners, like Bud Watts and Jack Smith. But creatives weren’t the only ones to co-create. Back in the day, the client and the agency team co-created. My account/media/creative team worked with the brand team to put the plan for the year together and present it at the P&G Budget Meeting to the CEO.
Today we have regressed. Everyone works in isolation. The results are pathetically thin, frankly.  I listen to case studies that tout millions of impressions and a 30% increase in response rates. When I ask what the response rate is it is less than 1%. When I ask what the reach vs. frequency in those impressions are – no one knows. When I ask what the recall was – no one knows.
The first think we do at the COMRADITY Co-Create Lab is to watch a highlight reel I’ve made of the Art&Copy documentary to demonstrate the value of these principles:
1. Raise expectations.
How many “creative briefs” or project “Scope of Work” have you seen that aim high enough to “move the needle?” Why invest in developing new more efficient ways to deliver worse results?
2. Get out and be present in reality.
The rate of new product failure in the 1980’s was as high as 70% and coincided with more new products coming out of corporate Ivory Towers instead of scrappy street-wise business people. Today’s start-up failures are as high as 90% with more start-ups being designed by scrappy kids with their heads buried in devices and in isolation. Reality is ambiguous and messy, ideas that move the needle disrupt that ambiguity with ironic simplicity. Those insights come when in the moment.
3. Patience.
It takes time for original ideas to emerge, percolate, be adopted, and resonate. The more you push the faster the roadblocks will spring up.
4. Trust your gut.
Ideas that resonate – that will ring true in the moment and over time – are hard to explain. So if it feels right – especially if you can’t explain why – have confidence.
5. It takes a community.
Collaboration is the fuel that moves the needle. The more stakeholders who adopt an idea and “own it” the faster and bigger it will grow. The challenge is orchestrating all the participants for harmony. Music is full of metaphors for describing collaboration – the process and the end result. What if we looked to music to develop a better collaborative creative process? It is based on a scientifically proven common language that help multiple diverse practitioners improvise together in real time.