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December 14, 2010
Hire Creatives Who Can Make a Great Print Ad
Like most people in this business, I spend a lot of time looking for people to hire. Obviously, in an agency, people are the most important part of the business -- besides excellent coffee and proximity to high-quality seafood. I’ve had all kinds of hiring strategies over the years, and they’ve certainly evolved. The other day someone asked me what I look for in a creative, and it made me think -- so much so that what I thought I was going to write changed as I was writing this very sentence.
The truth is, as an agency we don’t always do typical advertising. In fact, atypical’s the stuff that gets me most excited. Solving business problems with creativity may not always manifest itself in anything that resembles an ad. In reality, it seems like the creatives I admire the most are inventors and artists more than just the kind of art director or copywriter I was trained to be in school. Technology has multiplied our tools. So, how do you find those inventors and artists?
Let’s be honest, I’m not the only CD in the world looking for talented creatives who will endeavor to change the world. Most of the schools have been pushing their students to make these kinds of 360 campaigns for years now. A good portion of the creatives who have spent a decade or less in the business understand that this innovation is the way forward. How could it not be? I mean, the press continually writes about it. People are focused on crowd sourcing and social media and mobile and, of course, all the things that I call “digitalia,” like augmented reality. I get emails every day inviting me to webinars, seminars, and podcasts about these mind-blowing methods. The problem is that people are pushing so hard to do the next thing, they forget the fundamentals and get ahead of themselves. Sometimes this mindset filters down to creatives.
I too have been caught in the hype, and in the past, and too often disregarded great work because it wasn’t extended into a thousand non-traditional mediums. Yet, at the base of every amazing, mind-blowing tactic is a good idea. Often those good ideas are still exposed, manifested, and executed in more traditional mediums. And even more often, these old mediums, when executed to their best, showcase something I dearly miss: the lost art of craft.
So, I guess it comes down to this: I’m looking for great ideas, like everyone else, but I think I’d almost rather see a well-crafted print campaign right now than something like augmented reality or an iPhone app.  Shocking? Old school? I know; but there’s a reason, actually.
As we create more progressive campaigns and solve problems with the nearly limitless tools we have, I want to make sure we adhere to the craft that was so vitally important to advertising in the past. More importantly, smart ideas can be extended, pushed-out, and choreographed.  It kind of goes back to what Rich Silverstein said to me when I was interviewing at Goodby. I told him while I was excited to learn how to make TV spots, I didn’t have any and that concerned me. I know that seems a stupid thing to say for someone trying to get a job. He pointed out a couple of my print ads and said, “These print ads are TV spots.”  I guess I look at work in that same way. Thanks Rich. A good print ad or TV spot should be a good interactive idea.
There’s another reason to look at and hire people who do great traditional work. There are multitudes of talented creatives out there who don’t work at places or on pieces of business that push boundaries or with clients who want new ways of solving problems. And I don’t mind that at all. Because as long as those creatives can do a print ad or TV spot that has the right idea, we can help them make it into whatever it needs to be to solve the business problem. We like to squeeze the most out of any idea at Creature. An interactive idea might be a good TV spot. Could a print ad be a play? Could an email be a movie, too? A campaign starts where the idea is the purest. There’s still nothing wrong with that idea just being a headline. It just better be really good. 

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Jim Haven co-founded Creature in 2002 and serves as co-executive creative director of the agency. With 15 years’ experience working in creative enclaves from Portland to Amsterdam, Jim has created an array of brand experiences for virtually every category at powerhouses like Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and StrawberryFrog. At Creature, Jim has created and overseen campaigns for Google, Nike, Starbucks, HBO, Porsche, and more. Jim’s work has been honored at every major award show and featured in publications like Creativity, Adweek, and Advertising Age.
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