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Part 1: Is craft an essential component of creative work?



As the dust settles on Cannes annual advertising fashion parade and we start to look forward to the IPA Best of health awards, we wanted to get an industry wide view on how important craft really is as a component on creative work.

We got a huge amount of responses that we will share over the coming weeks…Part one is below.


Is craft an essential component of creative work?


“The true measure of a house is not in the square foot, but in the square inch. (Excuse the non-metric math.) The same goes for most anything we cherish or desire; a car, a smartphone, a suit, a scooter , even a relationship– not measured in years, but in those unforgettable moments.

Same for brands.

It is the details that resonate with customers, that create a sense of lasting quality and worth, that sink deep and linger long after the idea itself is understood.

And that takes craft, the finer tools, to create.

That being said, no amount of craft can save an uninspired idea. Michelangelo always started with a vision and good marble.

So forget one or the other, and your brand will surely be forgotten as well.”

Bruce Rooke, GSW


“Attention to craft can elevate even the greatest idea. Conversely, cutting corners on craft can ruin the very same great idea. It’s a fine line.

Unfortunately in pharma, a lack of craft has become an unfortunate hallmark, to the extent that when an agency or a campaign really focuses on it, really hones every last detail, it really stands out from the pack.

So from an effectiveness standpoint, there’s an opportunity staring us right in the face… Do beautiful work. Stand out. Get people’s attention.

What steps are we taking to elevate craft in our daily work? First is recruiting. We’re looking around the world to where the best craft is coming from. In my opinion, its South America, and we’re recruiting some of the top art talent from Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Second is elevating our game internally. We’re in the process of hiring an art lead for one of our teams who is currently the professor of craft of a major ad school outside the US. As a part of his role he will be leading a weekly Craft Class for all interested creatives. I’ll be the first to sign up. And third, we are working with each of our clients to appreciate the importance of “getting it right” and not just “getting it done”. For example, we’re doing a shoot next week for one of our DTC clients, and it’s a concept that could easily be pulled off in photoshop. But we’re not interested in doing it the easy way, and our client is on board with our plan. We’re putting extra time, and extra money frankly, into getting it right. We’re working with a world-class photographer with 30 Cannes Lions to his name, and we’re going to capture everything in camera. Its going to take a team of set builders, make up artists, and wardrobe and prop stylists to pull it off, but we all know its going to be worth it in the end.”

Tim Hawkey, ECD, AREA 23


“You can’t polish a turd, but weak craft can tarnish a great idea.

Craft makes a great idea sing.  Equally, it can make a great idea suck.  The execution of the concept is as important as the concept itself.  There were several examples at Cannes Lions Health where work could have received some metal if only for better execution, a better vehicle to deliver the big idea and convey the messages that had been moulded from the insights and strategic thinking process.  Similarly, there were a few (and only a few) sublime treatments in the creative on display that were unfortunately just that: sublime treatments but with no big idea behind them.  Pardon the expression but we have a phrase for that at DJM Unlimited: creative masturbation.

The job of the agency is to not only create that big idea but ensure that it hits home and delivers in as effective way as possible.  And one of the great take-homes for me from Cannes Lions Health is that there were plenty of entries that did just that and demonstrated the success with meaningful metrics.

Dominic Marchant, Managing Director, DJM Unlimited


“Craft is massively important. It’s the difference between making a good idea great, and an average one good.

I would be as bold to say that craft is as important as the idea. And in cases where the idea is a bit ‘seen it before’, then it becomes even more important.

There is a huge knowledge gap of craft in healthcare. Take Art Direction for example. Most people think it’s about making stuff look pretty. It’s very hard to find many people who actually understand what it is or how to apply it. It’s probably why most healthcare work all looks the same.”

Shaheed Peera, ECD, PLBR


“As a creative I would say that craft is everything.

It’s the emotional glue that bonds customers to brands.”

Frank Walters, Chairman, Frontera London


“Craft is one of the three pillars that make up the D&AD Judging Criteria, and in-terms of achieving standout in a crammed media space you can’t underestimate the importance of it.

Whether it’s Copy or Art, great craft has the ability to engage audiences at a most visceral level. It can help form an immediate and emotional connection between the viewer and the idea and invite you to read on.

Great craft can help your message cut-through, bring a brand’s personality to life and ultimately give you an unfair advantage.”

Peter Henshaw, Creative Director, The Partners Health