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November 11, 2008
Why Are Creatives Such Big Babies?
 
Because we’re “connecting to our inner fantastic.”

For those keeping score, I’m sorry for the delay in posting. I had something prepared but our head of PR asked that I delay putting it out there until certain permissions were granted. My inner child wanted to rebel but respect for my partner’s counsel won out. Discretion was, in this case, the better part of valor. Look for the questionable post soon enough.
Speaking of my inner child, I spent the evening at my children’s school, meeting their teachers, discussing the upcoming year. During this visit, I became aware of how “creative” so much of my girl’s curriculum really is. Colette’s science teacher explained how “experimenting and taking chances” shapes her powers of intuition. Lily’s drama teacher rhapsodized about “connecting to the inner fantastic.” She used the word “connecting” over and over again. “At this age,” she said, “the creative gene is ready to explode!”
I couldn’t help but think of all the “connecting” strategies I’ve puzzled over as a copywriter and creative director. “Connecting people” is the default strategy for all telecommunications, personal technology, and, frankly, just about everything people use in their waking lives. Connecting folks is Coca Cola’s uber-strategy. “I’d like to buy the world a coke.”
Even more interesting was this business about creativity “exploding.” I believe the teacher was saying that our creative muse is born in these opening years of life. That stimulated and nurtured, we begin to understand and respect our intuitions. Kindergarten is a creative department. Experimenting with ideas on the stage, colors on paper, sounds in music class…Christ, that’s what I do!
Or that’s what I prefer doing. Much of my day, however, is spent lawyering on behalf of ideas. Defending them. Subjecting them to all manner of worries and concerns, making them more appropriate, more coherent, more on strategy. It’s inevitable. It’s my job. But it’s also like killing the butterfly in order to appreciate it.
The older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay “connected” to my “inner child.” The best creative people do not grow out of it when they grow up. We remain inquisitive like children. Lovers of fun. You see it in our bicycles in the hallway. Our dubious wardrobes. Our playlists. Our flirty snapshots on Facebook. Alas, you also see it in meetings, where we become pouting and defensive, wilting under criticism, frustrated by the grown-ups ruining our fun. I know we can be insufferable. Imposing MBA logic in Romper Room is bound to create problems.
But our muses shan’t be stymied. The ability to ideate, to find that “inner fantastic” is necessarily petulant. Regrettable, then, is marketing’s obsession with guaranteeing results…or else! Research. Testing. Groups. I say Bleh! Intuition, if cultivated and nurtured, is the most important tool in kindergarten and, in my opinion, the creative department. The old saw is wrong -our ideas are not children. We are.

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Chairman of Euro RSCG Worldwide Chicago, Steffan Postaer is responsible for its overall creative leadership and quality of the creative product. He’s received several prestigious awards, including a Kelly Award, Best of Show, Gold and Silver awards at the One Show, the Addys and a Cannes Gold Lion. Steffan has a novel about god and advertising and posts regularly on his blog, Gods of Advertising. Follow him on Twitter.

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