Our bubble is a small one and we’ll only be able to burst it with more diverse and novel views – yes the comms industry has an obsession with youth but they often have a point to make. We’ve partnered with Leeds Arts University to uncover what students of advertising are pondering today. We’ve selected the two stand out summary essays of their 5000-word research papers which they completed in their final year for their ‘Context of Practice’ module. Here Will Heldt, BA (Hons) Creative Advertising, advocates we over me…

The Creative Pack: A Look into Collaboration within Advertising

It is no secret that the topic of creative collaboration surrounds the advertising industry, and is very much in the hot seat at the moment. With it falling among other trigger words like “disruptive” and “provocative”, the very definition of what it means to be collaborative is being questioned. John Hegarty makes many points regarding this topic during the 2016 Guardian Changing Media Summit.

​During this he discusses how collaboration in advertising nearly always leads to a consensus. A consensus which results in a normality that goes on to create boring work. I suppose he is right in the sense that the more minds an original idea filters through, the more diluted it becomes. Digestible perhaps, but diluted nonetheless.  

This is likely the result of the wide scale use of collaboration within the industry of advertising. Too many voices and opinions that slowly whittle away a brilliant idea until they are left with scraps to put a bow on and give to the consumers. But what happens when each person involved in this creative ensemble adds to the idea as opposed to trying to shape it? I believe this to be a route to the truest form of collaboration, and so does Keith Sawyer. In his book Group Genius, he talks about the theory of ‘Group Flow’ that happens when people are working coherently towards the goal of ‘collective improvisation’. In other words, when everyone is on the same page.  Sawyer used the great example of free-form jazz, in which a band can understand each other’s rhythms and key changes and improvise accordingly, leading to an unpredictable but entirely organic result. This is what collaboration should be within advertising should it not? Not a necessity but a tool to reach a higher level of creativity.  

On a more instinctual level, as human beings, there’s something that just feels right about working together. If you can think back to your time at school, group work was often the most fun and definitely the most memorable. So why is that as we grow up suddenly we are doing more things alone? I suppose we can teach ourselves independence, shaping us into that vicious lone wolf that we believe the working world wants from us. But I reckon this is a lie we are fed at some point between primary school and employment, because surely there is nothing more valuable than a wolf that knows how to hunt with the pack? One that can work well with others yet still stand alone as an individual.

These are the kinds of creatives the world of advertising needs, those who don’t require such ownership over the details. Those who are flexible and adaptable to working alone or embracing collaboration, and most importantly, those who can accept that sharing a great idea is better than having an okay idea all to yourself.