Thursday, March 7, 2024

Dear agency, creatives have names.

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

All right, color me upset. Yesterday, an agency sent me a teaser for their campaign. A very well-written teaser actually. I emailed back asking the name of that talented copywriter and the answer came back "the agency". My blood went boiling. Why? Let me tell you this story: A long time ago I had a major presentation for an Arab client. A specific art director and myself did everything from A to Z. The presentation (by yours truly) was a smash. On the way back, we get a message from the agency owner, whereby the client told him "oh it had your fingerprints all over it". And the owner was bragging about it even though he had zero input or knowledge of the content of the presentation.

Which brings us back to - NO, the agency did not write the copy. A very specific person in the creative department did. He or she toiled on it, wrote drafts or perhaps spit it out in one go (that's usually my method actually), words came out fully-formed or had to be tweaked, maybe that person came up with the sentence while on the WC, or as it happened to me once a 9 P.M. while opening a refrigerator (thankfully the art director lived nearby and was able to rush to tell him what it was). Bottom line: creatives need to be celebrated, not just agencies.

Also, a long time ago, I came up with a brilliant idea for an ad. The creative director ran with it, phoned the agency boss who happened on a business trip in Tokyo and claimed it was his idea. The worst part is that the creative director went to Prague to shoot the ad and came back with a distorted and deformed end product. But again, this is not about me - one of the things that "saved" me in this industry is that I came to it rather late, and already was dismissive of egos and accolades and awards and competitiveness - funnily on my cubicle at one of the agencies I inhabited was a sign "please leave your ego at the door".

But I am still upset. Because agencies do not write copies, and agencies do not come with creative ideas, and agencies do not do incredible presentations. It's creative people who do. And there's nothing wrong with giving credit where credit is due. When I ask who wrote the copy, please, do not say the agency did.

That creative needed to be celebrated.