A Crisis of Credit

Our job is communication. In the communications model that you probably saw in chapter 1 of your advertising class, there are four parts to the communication process. The sender sends. The receiver receives. The receiver decodes (the fourth part is interference, but that doesn’t apply here).

Without all of this happening, communication doesn’t happen. Which is why it’s critical that the receiver not only gets the message, but “gets” it. Can decode it.

A buddy of mine passed this on to me. A really nice way to decode the credit crisis, an incredibly complicated mess, for all of us non-investment-banker-types.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

This was created by Jonathan Jarvis, a grad student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His site for this can be found here.


Creative Depression II – Another Take

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on the effect a down economy has on a client’s willingness to buy what they perceive as “risky” (you might refer to as “good”) creative work.

For another take on the same thing, check out this post on Please Feed the Animals. He’s reporting on a New Yorker article from James Surowiecki (author of The Wisdom of Crowds). All these are good reads and provide more context for what’s going on and how, managed right, the depression can provide an opportunity.

Creative Depression

If you’re fortunate enough to have a job during this economic downturn, or if you’ve watched TV during it, you may have observed one of the laws of advertising economics: When the economy heads south, so does the creative.

It happens with every depression. The budgets get tighter, brand managers get nervous, executives and bean counters get more involved in the day-to-day creative product (never a good thing) and everyone demands really hard-hitting (i.e. straightforward) advertising. You see TV spots with CEOs talking to camera. You see brands jumping through hoops to deliver a “value message,” (e.g. our paper towels cost a little more, but they last longer). And because clients become overly fearful of missteps, they rely more heavily on focus groups and testing to cover their butts (also never a good thing).

Yes, there are some clients who are brave enough to still put out good work, who see the competitor’s timidity as an opportunity. But for the most part, expect smaller budgets and smaller risks.

Layoffs: A few things to consider

If I were a student or a junior creative, here are just a few things I would consider when digesting the news that even Crispin is laying off employees:
  1. Now, more than ever, you really need to have a great book to make yourself hirable when you’re looking and invaluable when you’re not.
  2. Personally, I do my best work when I’m not worried. Brush to the side the things you can’t control (the economy, the hiring process, client whims), and focus on the things you can (your work ethic, your book, and how much fun you’re having).
  3. I bet some of the 60 who were laid off from Crispin were creatives. And I bet their books are hotter than those of some creatives who are at giant/global/dinosaur shops. They (and maybe you) will have to decide what kind of agency they’re willing to work for in this economy. Will they be willing to work at agencies that don’t produce such great work just to get a paycheck? Will you? No right or wrong answers here. But you’d better have your own.