how much client contact makes you uncreative?

A blog that I like a lot, Scamp, by a copywriter at BBH London, is always a good read, but particularly on Tuesdays when he gives an (always insightful) tip to members of adland everywhere.

This Tuesday he talks about creatives presenting work to clients and, contrary to how everyone I know here in America does it, he says that it’s a bad idea for a number of reasons, the fifth being my favorite:

“The more time you spend with a Client, the more you will get to know their business problems, their day-to-day concerns and all that malarkey. This is not always a good thing. You’re a Creative, and you need to sit outside that. You need to have a general understanding of it all, and yet sit aloof from it. How else can you give them a fresh perspective?”

A lot of me agrees wholeheartedly (working, as I do, with a client that likes us so much that our team, including creatives, spends significant time in their offices). Another part of me disagrees.

I (partially) disagree with Scamp because I think that agencies can expand their service and add value beyond telling the story of the brand. They can, and should, influence product design, supply chain decisions (not a good idea to source fabric from a sweat shop when you’re positioning yourself as socially conscious, for example…ahem, Gap), and more. That requires deeper knowledge of the client than most agencies get, let alone most creative teams.

One could say that it is the account team that should dive deeply into the client’s business and tease out strategic insights from that to brief the creative team with.

I love account people. But, on specific businesses at least, I would really like to get involved at a deeper level…without them screening me.

Though it could just be naivete on my part.

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One response to “how much client contact makes you uncreative?

  1. I’ve been a b-to-b copywriter for 20+ years, and in my environment an account team as a middleman would have been nothing but a hinder.

    When you’re working with an electronics manufacturer or an aircraft factory, you as the copywriter are responsible for delivering the right message in the right way. No account execs, thanks, to distort the brief with their misunderstandings and personal views.

    Then again, I confess I’ve never really been involved in consumer advertising, so the problem in that realm may be a little different.

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