Form follows function for creative

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Gary Scheiner
Gary Scheiner

TBWA's Scheiner talks about why creativity is important

Q: Where does the creativity take place in direct marketing?

A: Creativity is about the collaboration of an art director and writer sitting in a room with a marketing problem in front of them that they have to solve. There is a small group of people coming up with the brilliant insight that solves a problem for consumers.

Q: Why do the John Caples International Awards [now managed by DMNews' parent Haymarket Media] focus exclu­sively on direct marketing creativity?

A: We have some of the best creative minds in business trying to solve mar­keters' problems. This is an immensely creative industry, but that is sometimes overshadowed by the importance of ROI. The Caples celebrate that creativ­ity by taking campaigns that fly below the radar because they are targeted and showing them to the masses.

Q: How has the creative process evolved as technology's role in direct marketing has grown?

A: The scope of the creative team broadens as the technology broadens. As new media evolve, we need to understand who the other critical people to the creative process are. No matter what medium we use to tell the brand story, every great piece of creative starts with an idea. So foremost, any creative professional needs to be able to think of big, expansive, platform ideas. That doesn't require a specific skill set. It just requires the ability to think strategically and creatively. So a digital guy can come up with a great campaign and even a great TV spot to go with it. I may need to bring in a great TV team to finesse the executions, but that's easy. As crafts­men, we keep up on the latest trends and technologies available to us.

Q: Do you have any unconventional hires in your creative department? What do you look for in a hire?

A: I just hired a woman who makes fur­niture and her own paper. She is a visual thinker and brings a totally different perspective to each challenge. I am also bringing in Hollywood animators that worked on major animated movies to help reinterpret a well known brand icon for one of our clients. Their experience as storytellers will bring a whole new dimension to this character. What I look for first and foremost are good people with good hearts, a great work ethic, and an unyielding desire to do great work.

Q: Do you think creatives are involved early enough in campaign creation?

A: I can't speak for the industry, but I can tell you that myself or another senior creative person is generally involved in the strategic development of any new effort at my agency. We need to push back, to be the voice of the consumer, to finesse and fine-tune the thinking. No one can do anything in a box, not even creatives. The creative work only gets better when other mem­bers of the team chime in.

The Caples Awards is currently looking for judges. To apply, see caples.org/judge or call 646/638-6031.

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