By Alex Øverland
‘We Sell or We Die’. This mantra, displayed on posters on the walls in the studio could to an outsider or new student seem a little harsh, or overly capitalist. Surely, an ad school – especially one that’s quickly earning a reputation as the best in the world – wouldn’t be so blunt about the true purpose of advertising?
In reality, selling is all it comes down to. Yes, building the brand is important. And storytelling. And impressions. And earned media. And making the world a better place. And, it’s about preparing for longterm value versus shortterm gain. But, if our advertising doesn’t result in pounds and pennies for the client somewhere down the line, we’re not doing our jobs as advertising creatives.
All our dotcollecting and passionprojecting is part of learning to create things people are interested in, regardless of whether it’s an ad or not, then somehow making a relevant connection to a product or brand. I emphasize relevant, because there’s a lot of advertising that ends up being very entertaining on its own, but with no substantial connection to the client’s brand. This is why I think it’s important to remember ‘We Sell or We Die’; we can create ideas that are far removed from traditional advertising – to the point where an audience might not consider it advertising – but the ideas are always tethered to the objective that, sometime in the future, what we do needs to result in a sale. Otherwise, we’re just part of a creative circlejerk.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for creativity that’s not motivated by financial gain, but if I want that I’ll go see a show, read a book or visit an exhibition. Applied creativity, as used in advertising, always needs to work towards an objective.
If no one remembers which advertiser aired ‘that really good Christmas ad’ last year, it’s not a great ad — it’s a cute short, which took up very expensive airtime. I guess my point is that even though we’re encouraged to think outside the box, question the brief, and break the rules, we know that anytime we do, we make sure to have a damn good reason for doing it. And in the end, as advertising creatives, We Sell or We Die. (Pardon the negativity, I’ll goand get my dotfix now.)