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Here's an Idea: Ideas Are Still the Commodity That Counts
By: Brian Keller
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Lately, many ad discussions have been centered around the always-delightful subject of writing vs. art direction et cetera, et cetera. “There aren’t enough writers.” “There are too many writers.” “No one hires writers." “There are plenty of jobs for writers.“ “Writers don’t get paid enough.” “Writers get paid too much.” "I’m a Copy Writer and Copy Writers used to come up with solutions; now they just write headlines. They can’t write real copy.” “Writers are neurotic.” “Art Directors are too popular now because everything is visual.” “We don’t have real Art Directors any more; they’re just designers.” “I’m an Art Director and Art Directors used to come up with solutions; now they just make things look pretty.” “Art Directors are neurotic.”

There is also the great "Internet and digital have destroyed creativity" debate. “It’s too easy now for anyone to do what we do.” “People sit in front of a computer they can operate and claim to be an Art Director or a Copywriter.” "My clients remind us that they have nephews in Community College who know HTML and Flash. What the hell is Ajax?” “What the hell are User Experience Architects and Developers who create holistic experiences?” "What’s a social media operative? What exactly is digital? What exactly does that mean?”

What’s happening here is that the media is overwhelming the message. We are forgetting where we came from and we have forgotten how to take advantage of an opportunity with a basic tool. There are about a zillion new media outlets available to advertisers and producers of advertising, and many of these outlets are without fee. So well-thought-out work that carries across all medias should be flowing freely through all avenues of expression. Time, 30 15 10, etc., is not a problem, format is not a problem, as relatively inexpensive software can make an office cubicle a fairly formidable production hub. The rise of HD and the inglorious death of film has made an “even playing field” for almost all.

There you go. "Even playing field"...with one caveat. The good idea. Big caveat. Is it hard to be an Art Director? No, not if you have an idea. Is it hard to be a Copy Writer? No. Not if you have an idea. Right now we are getting lots of executions, but ideas seem to be not-so-much around. Is there anything out there now that’s memorable and moves the client forward? There probably is, but those campaigns are a little difficult to remember. So, instead of complaining and moaning about the dearth of opportunities for Copy Writers and the morphing of Art Directors into something else, come up with an idea that’s good and that moves people. Worry about which discipline it came from later. The lines are blurred. Take advantage of it by becoming a person with an idea. Many constraints to free thinking have been removed.

Here's an idea: Go study some great ideas for inspiration. Here’s some help:

“Ideas are individual acts, but the proud parent of a newborn idea needs to share it with others who can help nurture it and make it grow.” -Keith Reinhard
Forget what avenue an idea came up through and remember who came up with the idea and help make the idea grow for the common good. We’re sure you’ll have many helping you make your idea grow.

Plant an idea throw your title away. You don’t need it any more, because ideas should be raised “free-range.”

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About the Author
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.

Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.

He has built the creative departments at two agencies.

He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.

Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.
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