By Tom Manning
Get. To. By.
“If you find yourself developing a creative philosophy, your growth is over, stagnation has set in.”
This is a quote that I scrawled onto my coffee mug at the beginning of the year. The copywriter, Jim Dufree, said it and I stole it to make myself appear wise and intellectual (as well as incredibly wanky – thank god I dropped it).
But I’ve always thought that philosophy and formula were diametrically opposed to creativity. In fact, I still do. But then there’s process, techniques and frameworks that run in parallel to – and facilitate – creativity.
I think that for many of us, after today’s masterclass from Shekhar, something clicked. He asked us why we need a brief – shrugs, bewildered faces, you just do, right? Wrong. You need a brief, because it helps you clarify the point you’re trying to make. It should stimulate creativity, and if it doesn’t then it isn’t a creative brief.
He told us that when the work goes right, Creatives win Pencils, Lions and Chips. But that when it goes wrong, no one says, “where are the Creatives, bring the guns”, they say, “let’s take another look at the brief (and shoot the Planner”. So to ensure our awards, and the survival of Planners, he offered us three words: Get. To. By. It’s how you build your brief, and figure out what your mission is as a Creative.
The mission breaks down as: Get____(define your audience and their current behaviour.) To____(what is the desired behaviour – that your work is able to impact?) By____(what is the strategy that informs your message?)
I had to read my notes several times and pin down Shekhar for 15 minutes after the masterclass to make sure I’d understood it. But as soon as I began to test brands and products with this structure, everything started to become so much clearer. I got into a flow, and wrote different strategies for Vogel’s bread for several hours.
I felt like I had some gold. I called Marc over to read through them. He read the first one and yawned, he read the second one and blew smoke over my screen, and read the third one and proceeded to make fart noises. He said they were limp and boring and would likely produce limp and boring ads.
Of course he was right (even if the sound effects were questionable). I was scrabbling around on the surface with my new toy. But gold isn’t found on the surface, you have to dig. Shekhar’s framework was great, but not magic. It feels like all you have to write is three sentences. But those three sentences are an expression of a fuck-ton of research – not an excuse for it.
There really are no formulas for creativity. But if I could give you one process to help make sense of your digging it would be: Get. To. By.