BBDO South Africa is publishing insights into the creative process, by 30 of South Africa’s
top creative leaders and the proceeds will build a library in a disadvantaged community
To mark its 23rd year, which is as random as one expects from a maverick creative group, Net#work BBDO is publishing a limited-edition coffee table book that examines the nature and process of creativity. Beautifully crafted and designed by one of the country’s rising young stars, Emma Strydom, the book is bursting with provocations, inspirations and award-winning work from 30 of SA’s top creative brains as they endeavour to define creative work and its significance.
Intended partly as inspiration, partly as myth-buster, partly as a bare-bones honest look at the creative industry and what keeps it ticking, the book titled Creative#Director (#CD), contains a refreshingly compelling blast of irreverence and wisdom along the lines of, “Every day, people keep opening their fridges, staring blankly into them, even when they know there’s absolutely nothing in there. That’s the most inspiring thing in the world for me,” says Liam Olding, Creative Director, 140 BBDO.
Mike Schalit, Net#work’s creative co-founder and Creative Chief of BBDO SA Group, says: “Instead of simply looking back at our last 23 years of learning on the fly, most notably through mistakes, I thought it might be more instructive to look forward and see if we could identify some wisdom on the subject. And what better than through the eyes of some of the extraordinary ideasmiths who’ve passed through our creative incubator?”
#CD probes what it really takes to direct creativity. “Breaking through the wallpaper of mediocrity and breaking down the wall of indifference calls for the very best of ideas, yet the most original are oh-so-elusive,” says Schalit. “These ideas have no precedent. They defy any logic or pattern.”
The 30 creatives in #CD have all been part of the Net#work journey. Some went on to become Creative Directors in their own right. Some formed their own agencies, some simply found themselves. And some are still with the agency today.
#CD ponders whether one can ever learn to master the bastard art, or inexact science, of being creative.
Mariana O’Kelly, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather, says: “Awards will come if you chase that voice inside you that tells you to go higher, brighter, better and simpler. Learn to listen carefully, as it’s the best Creative Director you will ever work for.”
And Asheen Naidu, now flying the flag in Australia as Executive Creative Director, BWM Dentsu in Sydney, advises aspirants to make work that people in the real world will like. “And if you’re lucky, there will be a few pieces they love.”
South Africa’s legendary Robbie Brozin, Nando’s co-founder, early Net#work client, and crusader for so many ground-breaking creative initiatives has penned the foreword: “I’ve been on the receiving end of some awesome work which I thought was crap, and some crap work which I thought was awesome, and a whole lot in-between, but most enduring at the end of it all are the characters and souls behind every idea – the creatives. Creativity is the most powerful business weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. Hey, it can help change the world! Just look at what it’s done for us!”
Sometimes it’s a little more philosophical, according to early day Net#work copywriter, now one of the country’s most influential creative leaders for a new generation, Neo Mashigo, Creative Partner M&C Saatchi Group, “One who sows the seed will not enjoy the shade. The one generation sows the seed, another waters the seed, another prunes, another enjoys the shade. It is an intergenerational sacrifice.”
Mike Barnwell, Executive Creative Director FCB Cape Town, advises succinctly, “Work hard and be nice to people,” and this speaks directly to the group’s ulterior motive for the book. Says Schalit: “I’m thrilled to announce that we’re also forming a #CD Collective across our respective agencies to collaborate on making some dents in the universe. First up is education: we’ve banded together for this first limited edition to contribute a library to a disadvantaged community. With a bit of luck, we’ll help inspire a force out there to keep fighting the good fight, one insanely ambitious step at a time.”
Teasers, snippets and film blurbs from #CD and its participants are slowly being released over the next two weeks on social media, a microsite at networkbbdo.co.za and various channels so there is already a healthy buzz in the air leading up to the actual book launch which takes place on Friday 18th August during Loeries Week at the premier annual awards in Durban.
“If this book achieves nothing else but inspiring the next generation of creatives, then we and the book have served our purpose,” concludes Schalit.