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British Rail

B

Interviewee

8 Creative Director

Team Disadvantages

0, 2

Project Outcome

Unsuccessful

Industry

Transportation

Location

London

Team Risk Tolerance

Low

Team Dynamics

TeamDynamics_Turnaround

Company

British Rail


Well the thing is, I mean it ... you know, I'm not dodging your question but the reason behind lots of things, they create a reputation for being prima donnas or aggressive, or explosive or difficult or nitroglycerine by nature is ... isn't really true. Because you have to understand the way it is, is that us and ... you know it's not to knock the account people, their absolutely fundamental to success as are the planners, as are the management and the offices. It's just that as a creative manager, sometimes you feel slightly alone, in terms of how I am for creative purity. [777]
It's I'm not so sure that we should do this, or I really believe in celebrity endorsement, or I like coke advertising but you're not coke. So you know, because the gigantic amount of subjectivity that always exists, and if you think about the other creative professions I've mentioned, music, architecture, TV, along with advertising, it is profoundly subjective by nature. And it's that conflict that's usually caused by the people who have been doing it for a living for a long time and the people who are paying for it who feel that by paying for it, they are entitled to influence, sometimes, the content. Not all the cases, I have plenty of good clients as well who understand that, that's not a good thing. [779],[778]
I mean let me be honest with you, if the idea is not a belcher in the first place, nothing that can happen to it after that presentation will save it. Right? So, if it's a shitter at the beginning it's never gonna be anything other than a shitter. [823]
Because, let me tell you something ... what we really believe in it. The battery of evidence suggests that if you take a proposition and you throw enough money behind it, you will see an effect in the marketplace. A positive effect in the marketplace, unless there's extreme mitigation not to do so. So that's not what we believe in. What we believe in, that with the same spend behind it, a better idea will be more effective than a mediocre one. But you know and again you understand, you mustn't understand too much because our job is to defend the pure and the uncompromised and it's absolutely what we're her to do, I'd say more than that, that's what we ... more than anything else, that's what we get paid for. To broker away from that and back to, the best possible vision of the idea that we've had. In all its different forms, for that brief, for that product, on the brand right now. [780],[824]
One silver bullet ... silver bullet solutions are much rarer than people believe they are. [826],[825]
... I had a British Rail ad once, in which I had a script very, very nearly approved and then the chairman blew it out and I had to rewrite it in 12 hours. And it was a different idea and it was a bad idea. But you know, the pressures were at the time, as is always the case with these things pretty irresistible. But they were causal to its lack of appeal. Its uselessness its finality. [782],[784],[783],[781]
And it was a different idea and it was a bad idea. But you know, the pressures were at the time, as is always the case with these things pretty irresistible. But they were causal to its lack of appeal. Its uselessness its finality. [827]
Yeah. I mean that's the thing for us, more than anywhere else, you see something come on that you've done, that you like and it's a great feeling. What was in my head is now on the screen in front of 30 million people and I'm proud of it. And I feel really good about it but I don't have the downside of fame. Like an actor would see a piece of work he'd done and feel that way or not that way. But believe you me when it's not very good, it kills you. It just kills you, it really hurts. So that's why we fight hard to make sure there are less of that kind of and more of the other kind. So I had a British Rail film out there that I thought was mean, embarrassed when I saw it. I mean there had been others but that one I remember being particularly uncomfortable when I saw it. So it's ... [785],[786]
He just subjectively didn't like it. [828],[787]
All of the ... Eleven people underneath him saw it and approved it. And it was researched with the consumer, and this guy spontaneously and subjectively didn't like it. [830],[829],[788],[789]
No, and also what is he doing? He's meant to be running the company, what's he doing judging one off regional copy. But that's part of our business, it's ... on craft I used to have the worldwide CEO host the copy review and the minutiae of ... you know, as his brand went to hell in a hand cart and Wall Street was screaming at him, he was worried about angel wing size. So you know, we deal with a lot of sort of unusual stuff and you wouldn't believe, every ad that gets made, that you see on TV that's a great ad, really deserves to be awarded and applauded because its run the grand national four times in a row without any break or water to get over all of those fences cleanly, and to arrive in the finisher's winner's ring. That's why 80% of the stuff you see out there is mediocre or worse. And just the top echelon, the cream at the top of the bottle is the stuff that's so very, very good because of those ... the possibility of death by any one of the thousand cuts, can occur at any time. [791],[792],[793],[790]
Deeply hierarchical, deeply. And old fashioned in an awful way. [794]
I mean, that's a real difficulty. Marketing tends to be a very multifaceted discipline. So it's Monday, I'm talking to the guy that runs the vending machines, Tuesday I'm talking about distribution, Wednesday I'm talking about pricing. Oh hello it's Thursday, the agency's here with it's creative ideas. Who's going to be good at all those things do you think BAHU? Very few would be the answer. [831]
Well low but, as a consequence of so many people really not understanding how to deal with creativity agencies. I mean, that's a real difficulty. Marketing tends to be a very multifaceted discipline. So it's Monday, I'm talking to the guy that runs the vending machines, Tuesday I'm talking about distribution, Wednesday I'm talking about pricing. Oh hello it's Thursday, the agency's here with it's creative ideas. Who's going to be good at all those things do you think BAHU? Very few would be the answer. [795],[796],[797]
Because they're wildly different skillsets. Yet they're all lumped in under this marketing thing. And that's why anyone, particularly on the creative side who works in an agency, although not exclusively on the creative side, will know that there's gigantic variety in what you're going to get given, in terms of the human being on the other side of the table. And sometimes you get lucky and it's sweet and it's fantastic and you go thank you lord. And other times it's desperate because you just have someone who's on a different planet from you and has no capacity to understand what you're saying or why you're saying it. Or to see what it is that you're proposing. [798]
Yeah, I mean you know, here's the difficulty, I mean I'll you what they are. They were ... there were 11 people, 10 of whom couldn't say yes. So those 10 people, the best thing they contributed was not saying no. When it finally reached the guy who could say yes, he said no. So, what kind of a system is that, you wouldn't design it, if you were asked to design a buying system at Harvard. The winning entry would not be that. [801],[800],[832],[799]
So they were putting some extraordinary offers on the table to encourage that. You know, it would have been an interesting idea. But having to replace an idea that had been in [inaudible 00:13:54] for two months with one you had to come up with in 12 hours is never going to lead really, to the kind of result you want. [833]
So they were putting some extraordinary offers on the table to encourage that. You know, it would have been an interesting idea. But having to replace an idea that had been in [inaudible 00:13:54] for two months with one you had to come up with in 12 hours is never going to lead really, to the kind of result you want. This was, you know ... the track was good which was, People all over the world ... Love Train, Love Train it was. And only in the last few years can I listen to that song and really enjoy it. But it just wasn't ... It's just one of those ones that once it gets of the leash, it's going to be different degrees of bad. [802]
mean of course you're not frustrated that it's going to another team, you're frustrated that what you did, which you love, didn't happen. [834]
Yeah, you give it all and you have a shot and then you kind of spend and ... and then. You know it's better to hand it over. I mean of course you're not frustrated that it's going to another team, you're frustrated that what you did, which you love, didn't happen. [804],[803]
But if you can't get used to that then, you're not going to have a long career as a creative in advertising. Even the very best creative agencies ... all stuff dies for all teams at some point. And you can get in any agency around here into ruts in and onto rolls and neither last forever. And you know, that's how it goes. [835]
Because, you know, what can I say? It's like sex, you know. The enthusiasm for the first time can never be replicated on the second time. No matter how good the second time is. It's that your first one is the one you really, really connect to and if that didn't go well then the next ones going to be harder. Yeah, exactly. Let him have a go. It's a bit like that, it's professionally necessary of course to get up off the deck and go again. [805]
And that is A. Necessary, B. An admirable quality, and C. Something you're going to have to do if you want this as your profession. It's the chance that it's gonna be as good as the first one ... it's possible, it's unlikely. That's the truth. [806]
It's the chance that it's gonna be as good as the first one ... it's possible, it's unlikely. That's the truth. [836],[837]
Well, maybe it would be, but I mean yeah, and that would be the fundamental reason for doing it. And so I mean, look at that Christmas card how ... don't mention that I ... [807],[808]
How shit is that. I mean honestly, I mean look at the budget you've got, I mean the girl's teeth aren't even white. It's just hideous, its cliché, corporate ... [809],[810]
It's hideous. So you know that's the challenge of ... there you go, your challenge is your Christmas card. Let's see your imagination, the stuff I'm countering every day, oh here it is, look at it. I mean ... shit [811],[838],[812]
Yeah, the first one got approved and it wasn't' a problem but they ... you know it's surprising what happens. And I say it's the nature of being a semi profession if you like is that ... I wish I had a penny for every time I had a conversation which there was a gigantic incontrovertible body of evidence in front of the client. And they go something like, it's good, it's good, but is good the enemy of great? And that awful uniformed airport book stand quality of thinking can in a nanosecond lead to a complete re brief, six weeks more work. Off something as vacuous and as uninformed as that. And there you go, there you go. [840],[813],[839],[841]
Yeah, the biggest constraint was client IQ. That was the greatest barrier to success. [814],[842],[843]
"Quite liked your book, it's not really finished but I'll tell you what, I've got a Geordie art director in at the moment that we like the look of. No one can understand a word he says, if you can, you can go and sit with him for three weeks." [844]
So that was my in. And we got on really, really well and worked together for about eight years. So he wanted me to work with him so he made it easier. And he drew up all my book and ... because I was shit at drawing, still am. And so he really helped me get ... because he wanted me to be his writer so he helped. So that's how you get in. Sometimes you need a bit of help. [845]
Which I felt, I know it was unavoidable in both instances, and entirely based on merit but it was a very, very difficult thing to have to do. One of them is dead, unfortunately, and the other is alive and understood why I had to do what I had to do. But he now works the freelance circuit and he has a different life. He's divorced from his wife who ran off with and elderly headmaster. She finally left. Really fancied an academic man. Watch out for that though. And he's now ... lives ... he's got his own place. Got a brilliant daughter between them who of course he sees. And is shacked up with a french girl, and he works his life differently. [846]
Every taxi driver in London just to say JWT and they'd take you to 40 Berkeley Square. The eighth floor bar was once Frank Sinatra's flat. [847]
Well, you know ... I mean it's what we do. I mean, we can't be too precious about stuff. This stuff happens. But everyone was extremely disappointed when ... And that's what happens sometimes is that, right on the cusp of success, someone comes in and pisses on your ships, BAHU, and that's not nice. [815]
On that one? Really poor. I mean, really poor. The guy was a mess and had an enormous mental break down about three weeks after we finished the job. [816]
Really poor. I mean, really poor. The guy was a mess and had an enormous mental break down about three weeks after we finished the job. [848]
Strong. I mean, adversity bonds you together as well as good times. [817],[818]
Good. Especially on the creative side. You looking to your creative director on things like that. I'd say most creative teams are very tough on themselves. They don't need some big old fat guy to come in and say " You really fucked that up" when you know that it got fucked up. [819]
No, the agency is there where there is an agency, don't get me wrong. They don't just pin you out to dry. But there are situations that are unbrokerable and it's JFDI stuff and you just have to do it and we're a service industry and those are difficult. Period. It's always ... You're going to have a few of those and they're never, ever fun. Really, they're difficult. [849]
Same for them. They share their load. Of course they don't feel it quite as personally and because they are kind of semi responsible for the client behavior then they probably have to take a few jabs on the chin. [820],[850]
The system is a system of banners and creatives and account people were in charge of different things and inevitably there's potential for conflict within that system and that conflict is more likely to be realized during difficulty than not. So, I think the thing is that you really, everyone makes an effort not to take it personally. They're explosive situations and ... [852],[851]
Yeah. It flattens out. The system is a system of banners and creatives and account people were in charge of different things and inevitably there's potential for conflict within that system and that conflict is more likely to be realized during difficulty than not. So, I think the thing is that you really, everyone makes an effort not to take it personally. They're explosive situations and ... [821]
We're not casual and le se faire about stuff. It's serious stuff, weirdly. So, yeah. [853]
No. I mean, if you're not in it your view's not really required. There are too many views as it is. So, it's neither here nor there really. [854],[822]
Reference Tags
[777] Lack of organizational encouragement,[779] Overconfidence bias,[778] Subjective validation,[823] Pessimism bias,[780] Overconfidence bias,[824] Creative Confidence,[826] Anchoring,[825] Anecdotal fallacy,[782] Forceful conflict about ideas,[784] Insufficient Feedback,[783] Micromanaging,[781] Unbalanced workload pressure,[827] Pessimism bias,[785] Ikea effect,[786] Yielding conflict about ideas,[828] Anecdotal fallacy,[787] Dismissive,[830] Alignment,[829] Authority bias,[788] Dismissive,[789] Micromanaging,[791] Internal changes/challenges,[792] Micromanaging,[793] Resilience,[790] Selfish motivation for the project,[794] Micromanaging,[831] Communicating ideas across domains,[795] Indecisive leadership,[796] Vague goals,[797] Vague roles,[798] Trust,[801] Indecisive leadership,[800] Micromanaging,[832] Pessimism bias,[799] Vague roles,[833] Planning fallacy,[802] Reactance,[834] Reactance,[804] Believes one has a hopeful path,[803] Optimism,[835] Believes one has a hopeful path,[805] Reactance,[806] Resilience,[836] Anecdotal fallacy,[837] Pessimism bias,[807] Illusory superiority,[808] Reactive devaluation,[809] Illusory superiority,[810] Reactive devaluation,[811] Illusory superiority,[838] Pessimism bias,[812] Reactive devaluation,[840] Anecdotal fallacy,[813] Illusory superiority,[839] Indecisive leadership,[841] Perfectionism,[814] Illusory superiority,[842] Overconfidence bias,[843] Pessimism bias,[844] Language barrier,[845] Organizational encouragement,[846] Negativity bias,[847] Rosy retrospection,[815] Resilience,[816] Man blaming man,[848] Unbalanced workload pressure,[817] Resilience,[818] Trust,[819] Promote autonomy & sense of ownership,[849] Reactance,[820] Organizational encouragement,[850] Pessimism bias,[852] Communication issues,[851] Unresolved relationship conflict,[821] Quick resolution of relationship conflict,[853] Perfectionism,[854] Absence of diverse skill backgrounds,[822] Promote autonomy & sense of ownership

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MADISON BARNETT
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