How To Be A "Creative"
As former Humble Pie guitarist Peter Frampton sang on his 1976, 11 million copy-selling live album, Frampton Comes Alive, "something's happening" in the advertising industry. All of a sudden, everybody/anybody can be a "creative". That's because everybody—brogrammers, consumers, account ass-suckers, clients, even PR morons—is creating ads. Except nobody is calling it ads. Everybody is calling it "Content".
Fine. For the purposes of this post, I'll call it Content with a CAP C. Thing is: most of these new "creatives" wouldn't know creative Content if it shit in their eyes.
That's why I, an international multi-award-winning, formerly highly-paid advertising creative pro with over 20 years experience in the bloodiest all-nighter, 7-day work week ad trenches, one of the hallowed Mad Men, will now—for free—tell you exactly how to become an advertising "creative" capable of creating creative Content.
The first thing you need to get through your brain before you sit down to create creative Content (or stand-up, on one of those idiotic treadmill desks) is that you're dead. You were born dead. You're dead right now. And you're still gonna be dead tomorrow. It's the human condition. If you don't have this inner Deadness (it's the opposite of "Zen"), close tab, and stare into a dark void (any dirty toilet is good) until you do, and only then, come back to this webpage.
Pure creativity grows best in pessimistic emptiness.
Secondly, erase from your brain that Kumbaya brainstorming sound bite you may have heard before, you know the one—"Always say 'yes and' not 'no but'!". This roundtable Collaborative Optimism method of creating Content is Creativity's new #1 killer; a shit concept is always obviously shit to a good creative and must be killed with spitting hate immediately before it ends up bought by a clueless client. Hurt feelings are for five-year-olds. YOU ARE A SOULLESS RHINO. This doesn't mean you have to be an asshole, just don't be a fake-liker. for fucks sake. Those fake-smile cretins are the absolute worst.
Now. The "Creative Process" is one of the great mysteries to civilians/marketing doofuses, as it should be. As it reads in the above definition, creativity is a transcendental process that takes years to just become shitty at, let alone a solidly above average copywriter like me.
You? You are not ready to even be shitty. Sorry, uncreative civilian/marketing doofus.
But by the time you finish reading these five steps, you'll be on the correct path to becoming a shitty creative who could at some point in the future go ahead and apply for an internship in the shitty internal wrongly-collaborative creative departments at any of the big "Social" "Media" "News" sites. Maybe you'll help improve their shitty Native Content.
Creating Creative Content, Step #1—Get A Hotshot Creative Partner.
The two-person copywriter/art director team, the dynamic that has created pretty much every great ad in advertising history, is being replaced, somewhat, by this new, new-media, 10-monkeys-fucking-a-football collaborative Content kaka. Fuck that. If you're a copywriter, find a great art director (or vice versa) who is as cynical as you are, and team up. BUT THIS IS KEY: He/She must be talented as fuck AND pissed off as fuck—BOTH attributes are equally important. This is the ONLY collaboration that can create cracking Creative Content (copy note: avoid forced alliterations). I've worked with a shit-ton of ADs before computers, and with computers, and this is the only collaboration that works. And when I say "talented as fuck", I of course mean much more creative than you are because ADs still need at least an average CW (and vice versa) no matter how good they are.
The alternative is to go it alone, which can still work, (it's what I'm doing now) if you're good enough, which you are not.
Creating Creative Content, Step #2—Google Images Is Your New Best Friend.
Are you ready to see the aforementioned great creative mystery unravel right before your uncreative eyes? This is how to create creative Content, Content that is more creative than any of the awful "Native" ads you see on your various popular daily web stops.
Whatever product or service you're creating creative Content for, there will be a Brief or at least a Key Message. There is always a Key Message. With stupid clients who try to jam 10 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag, there are sometimes three or four Key Messages. It might be a product benefit, it might not be, it doesn't matter. Within that Key Message(s), there will be an obvious Key Word or two. Type that Word, and—this is important—ALL variations/synonyms/antonyms of that Word into Google Images. And, search and search and search until you feel even more soulless. (You can also do this with stock photos sites. You can also stab yourself in the hand with an X-Acto™ knife. You have freewill.)
It doesn't matter if your Content assignment is print, digital what-not, video, a matchbook cover, even a bullshit sponsored post trying to mask itself as editorial—the best way to arrest consumers is visually, not with your stupid puns and wordplays. Find an image in your search that stops you, and you're on your way to creating the rare creative piece of Content. But, and this is a Nicki Minaj But, what I can't teach you doofuses is this: you have to know it when you see it, it being an image that perfectly helps dramatically and entertainingly communicate your Key Message. And you only learn that by doing creative work over and over and over and etc. And it might not be one image, of course, but a combo of two or more images, or part of an image, the result being a somewhat original image. Or you'll see an image that makes you think of another image. The point being, get your brain thinking VISUALLY.
Also take photos. Everywhere. Of anything.
Creating Creative Content, Step #3—Get A Shitty Thesaurus.
Get both of these books, but especially the left one. It is a very imprecise thesaurus, horrible for a novelist, but perfect for an ad creative. It gives hundreds of words and phrases that don't mean anything within ICBM range of the original word. But that's good for the imprecise "art" of ad (sorry, Content) making.
Keep a running tally of your image/word/phrase finds. You might find the spark of a great idea hanging out in that big mess of catfish you collect.
Creating Creative Content, Step #4—Start Making Swipe Folders Of Categorized Images.
Categorized by benefit, color, setting, whatever, you're a creative. Speed. Reliability. Toughness. "High Tech". Price. Grow A Bigger Dick, etc. And not just digital folders, actual physical folders with ads, magazine images, photos, etc. If you have access to back issues of Communication Arts or Archive, Spend days/weeks/months going through them and making copies of all the cool images you find. (If they're not your magazines, don't tear out images, you selfish douchebag.) Expensive art magazines are also good image sources. It's called borrowed interest. Or, stealing, if you prefer. Picasso advocated it, so get off your fucking high horse (then, take a photo of his big dick though, for your files). Just because you're soulless, doesn't mean you get to be incurious.
Creating Creative Content, Step #5—You Need Deadline Pressure.
The best concepts come to the trained pro when he/she is under pressure. Sorry, that's just the way the mind works. Oh sure: you can create some decent, pretty Content a week out from your presentation date. But rarely is it GREAT Content. This is what makes the job hard, when it is hard. Because there will be times when the pressure wins, and you don't come up with jack shit. Fail too much, and it's time to become an account person, or a PR writer, or Native ad post writer, or listicle ad post maker.
That's all I got. I'd say Godspeed, but you're soulless.
Bill gets the last word: