Friday, October 30, 2009

Tried and true meet dumb and dumber.

I just read a theater review of a new production of Sophocles' "Antigone" in The New York Times. It said the director Anne Bogart is a "member of the New York avant-garde establishment."

This line really struck me as an example of what is wrong with our "creative community." Almost by definition, you can't have an avant garde establishment. The minute you are part of an establishment, you are no longer avant garde.

One of the phrases I often jab clients with is an oxymoron of my own creation: "proven breakthrough."

Here's the deal clients and agencies, you get one or the other. If you want avant garde and breakthrough, you don't get establishment and proven. My point, I hope, is simple: Creativity is the result of experimentation. It's grasping the un-explored and hoping its surprise and intrusiveness will be salutary. You can't do that in a risk-free way. Despite agency committees, client conferences, focus group insights, the reports from Dynamic Logic and the "intelligence" of best practices, there is no creativity without risk.


Graham Strong said...

"There is no creativity without risk" ...which is a big part of why so many ads end up being uncreative.

Clients just don't want to risk their advertising dollars on unproven breakthroughs.


Kelly said...


I got to "member of the New York avant-garde establishment" and fell off my chair laughing. Took me a minute to compose myself to realize that was your point.

Love the post. And naturally, I'm all for creativity, surprises, and breakthroughs. Who isn't?

Related: avant-garde is not always necessary. Picture Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and perhaps you'll agree. Sometimes proven is better. Even in the world of advertising, sometimes you do *not* have to swing for the fences.

Oops, I mixed my metaphors. *waves small flag* Go Phillies. :)

Unrelated: I was in a production of Antigone a long time ago. Avant-garde or not, it wouldn't have given Anne Bogart a run for her money I'm sure.

I was thinking it's a touch sad that I can't remember a word of it.




george tannenbaum said...

Go Phillies, yes, Kelly.

I recently saw Peter Sellars' "Othello" which was so avant garde it "biteth the boneth."

Philip Seymour Hoffman was a screaming Iago. They decided not to make it about race. They decided to combine characters and change roles.

I would way rather watch Orson Welles' version on DVD.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a love-hate relationship with digital memory because of how prices are always,and I domean always falling. I absolutely hate buying Micro SD Cards for my R4 / R4i at (seemingly) a cheap price only to see it become a whole lot cheaper a couple of months later.

(Posted using HomeBrow for R4i Nintendo DS.)