A blog by Damon Stapleton, chief creative officer, The Monkeys New Zealand.
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” – Robert Frost
I am going to apologise in advance. I am not sure what this post is about. It’s a little sentimental. I just felt I had to put something down or say something. Next month is a little milestone for me. I genuinely didn’t realise 2022 will be the tenth year of writing Damonsbrain.com. I have written over 220 posts and I have had over 250 000 people visit the site and a few more read my weird ideas in the 8 countries that the blog is published in.
That makes me proud.
So fucking what I hear you say. And that’s fair. Enough humble bragging from me. Maybe a better use of this blog would be asking was there any point to writing all of this weird shit and did I learn anything?
Well, to answer that let’s start with why I wrote it in the first place. The short answer is I felt when I started everybody except creatives were writing about being creative. Nobody wrote what it was like to be a creative and stare at blank walls, screens and pads hoping an idea would appear. Everybody had a theory or a process but never had to come up with the actual answer. They could tell you how to do it but never had to risk doing it themselves. Ten years later, not much has changed there. What has changed however is many more types of companies now see the need for creativity. I believe this is going to massively change the landscape going forward. But that’s for another blog.
On a more personal level, I began writing because I wanted to see if anybody else felt the way I did about ideas. It was a strange kind of public therapy. What I found was many did. I got emails from Minneapolis to Moscow and everywhere in between. What I found was that creatives are a tribe. We might speak different languages but we all actually speak the same language. And from your emails, we certainly deal with very similar challenges globally. As a side note, I wish I could publish some of the stories I have been sent. Trust me, if you are a creative having a rough day, there are some insane stories I have been sent that will put your day into perspective. From your stories and responses I learnt there is no perfect. I learnt nobody has the answer and perhaps talent is important but resilience is very important. That is still true today.
I also learnt when you hear jargon beware. That was a re-occurring theme that I wrote about often. In our business we love jargon and complication. But, in my experience, if nobody in the room understands it, it’s either because there is nothing to understand or it’s just not very good. 100 page decks are normally hiding nothing rather than showing you something. Simplicity is very hard and does the job far better. Take one of my all time favourite quotes from the late great David Abbott.
“It doesn’t matter how fast shit reaches you, it’s still shit.”
Simple, clear and to the point.
Ten years on, I would say we need a lot more of that.
I guess another big theme has been creatives themselves. How you need human beings to come up with ideas that are new and can change everything. I would say ten years on there are many debates about how to generate more and more ideas that we have to put in more and more places. I think this has changed the kinds of ideas we have to come up with now. Think what else you would have to do with Cadbury Gorilla now as opposed to it just being a television commercial 15 years ago. The debate of being somewhere vs being everywhere will continue.
For me what isn’t up for debate when it comes to ideas is the secret ingredient of humaness (my word). I would define it as caring way beyond your salary or working hours. Without it, the danger of everybody having the same idea becomes very real. Go and look at this years Xmas commercials. A couple stand out because somebody really cared about the idea and the details. However, many are generic wallpaper and some are just terrible. So, despite all the processes we have a decade later that ratio hasn’t really changed. The truth is really great work happens because somebody trusts somebody and believes in something that doesn’t exist yet. That is the human factor. That hasn’t changed. Even after all the due diligence has been done a leap always has to be made.
For that, you need people.
I guess that is what I have learned by writing this weird blog for 10 years. We love the shiny. We love what is next. We love big words. Many love fancy offices, big salaries and grand titles. And in this business, we all probably love or need adulation a little too much. A lot of this stuff lasts a day, a month or not much longer than that. Everything is always changing. Yet, despite all this noise, movement and madness some things don’t change at all.
The right people can walk into a room and leave with an idea that can blow the world’s mind.
I have seen people do impossible things or come up with ideas that make you sit down. I have seen people fix impossible things, explain things, change things and create things. The magic of alchemy with the pressure of a stopwatch.
These mad, brilliant people make me love advertising and creativity.
We should never take them for granted because they are pretty special.
That is the lesson. In a world that is changing a lot, what hasn’t changed are the people who make it all work.
They are a tribe of coffee-fuelled magicians.
To the tribe, thanks for reading my blog. It means a lot.
Merry Xmas and keep doing impossible things.