Nick Law: The se­cret of any suc­cess

We have in­ter­viewed ten of the most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in ad­ver­tis­ing on how cre­ativ­ity af­fects their ca­reers. Here is the first of the se­ries…

ArabAd - - CONTENTS - Nick Law, the brand new Chief Cre­ative of Of­fi­cer of Publi­cis Groupe, on cre­ativ­ity By Gijs De Swarte

The Amer­i­can agency R/GA - where he made his ca­reer, has 2000 em­ploy­ees and of­fices in 18 coun­tries, and com­bines ad­ver­tis­ing with in­ter­ac­tive tech­nol­ogy and dig­i­tal de­sign. It re­quired a unique view on cre­ativ­ity from the for­mer global cre­ative lead, Nick Law, a view, very much ap­pli­ca­ble in daily life. And be­cause of it, he has just been hired by the Publi­cis Groupe - one of the world’s largest ad­ver­tis­ing con­glom­er­ates - to show them the way for­ward as well

Cre­ativ­ity is…

Nick Law: ‘First there is noth­ing, and then there is some­thing. What wasn’t there at first arises in your head and then ap­pears to the world. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are in­fi­nite. Look around you and you can’t es­cape the re­al­iza­tion that cre­ativ­ity is a cru­cial part of life. Cre­ativ­ity is in all of us and the more you know about it, the more cre­ative ca­pac­i­ties you can de­velop and get un­der con­trol, the bet­ter you func­tion. And I’m not just talk­ing about ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing or your pro­fes­sional ca­reer. I’m talk­ing about life. Cre­ativ­ity in it­self is progress. Once you start cre­at­ing, it never turns out the way you imag­ined it at first; an idea changes, me­an­ders, de­vel­ops, be­comes some­thing en­tirely dif­fer­ent. That’s growth, and growth is what we hu­mans tend to strive for in life.’

Mainly sto­ry­telling

‘If you want to keep things sim­ple, you can dis­tin­guish two kinds of cre­ativ­ity: “straight for­ward” sto­ry­telling and “sys­tem­atic think­ing.”

Since Bill Bern­bach put the art di­rec­tor and copy­writer to­gether in one room in the 1950s, ad­ver­tis­ing has mainly been about sto­ry­telling. That also had to do with the me­dia that were used to send out the brand mes­sages; news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines and TV are sto­ry­telling me­dia in it­self. As a cre­ative, you dis­till a story from the emo­tions that are as­so­ci­ated with a brand. And to have as much im­pact as pos­si­ble, you sim­plify the story to send out a crys­tal clear, strong, cool mes­sage on be­half of the brand.

The rad­i­cal step we took at RG/A was to change the tra­di­tional team of art di­rec­tor and copy­writer to sto­ry­teller and sys­tem­atic thinker. That is the se­cret of our suc­cess.

‘I’m orig­i­nally a de­signer. In the de­sign in­dus­try “sys­tem­atic think­ing” has the up­per hand. Sys­tem­atic thinkers use a he­li­copter view, to over­view the whole play­ing field and all op­por­tu­ni­ties. A dig­i­tal de­signer for ex­am­ple looks at how users will pos­si­bly re­act to the de­sign, what that means for their jour­ney, all the way to where a pur­chase is made – and even af­ter that. A good sys­tem­atic thinker takes all chan­nels through which the brand can com­mu­ni­cate into ac­count, right from the be­gin­ning. And makes sure it all makes per­fectly, seam­less sense.

‘The suc­cess­ful agen­cies of to­mor­row will con­sist of peo­ple who can do, or at least un­der­stand both ap­proaches. Who will find the story and have the he­li­copter view needed to make sure peo­ple truly ex­pe­ri­ence it, through ev­ery pos­si­ble chan­nel. When I came to New York dur­ing the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion at the be­gin­ning of the mil­len­nium a lot of what was made dig­i­tally, just didn’t make sense. It was crafted in a sto­ry­telling man­ner, while the In­ter­net is a to­tally dif­fer­ent medium. I’ve seen quite some big bud­get projects go down the drain. The rad­i­cal step we took at RG/A was to change the tra­di­tional team of art di­rec­tor and copy­writer to sto­ry­teller and sys­tem­atic thinker. That is the se­cret of our suc­cess; to con­stantly look for a bal­ance be­tween the art of sim­pli­fy­ing and cre­at­ing a story with max­i­mum im­pact – and the in­put of peo­ple over­see­ing the whole play­ing field and spot­ting op­por­tu­ni­ties that come with new me­dia and tech­nol­ogy.’


‘The ques­tion then of course is, what use could this kind of think­ing have in your per­sonal life? First of all - when you have been us­ing your brain as a sto­ry­teller for a long time, it’s hard to switch to sys­tem­atic think­ing im­me­di­ately. And vice versa. But... as in our in­dus­try, life is about ideas. What I’m try­ing to say is, do you just live your own “nar­row” story, or do you see your­self as part of a big­ger world and the op­por­tu­ni­ties that come with that much larger per­spec­tive? Lead­ing a good, sim­ple life, with no progress, is a dead end. Just as see­ing all kinds of pos­si­bil­i­ties with­out hav­ing a clear goal. Find the bal­ance be­tween the two. There’s not much more to it. It makes a huge dif­fer­ence. That’s life, that’s progress. And I can tell, be­cause I’m ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it on a daily ba­sis.’

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