Fostering creativity from the inside out

On the surface, being a creative person in advertising is an opportunity to show your true self. Writing or designing is inherently expressive and free of corporate norms otherwise reserved for people in suits. And this is largely the view of ad agencies as a whole — fun, energetic spirits brainstorming on modern furniture.

But the truth is a bit more “buttoned up” as they say.

The truth? We represent corporations, CEOs and the interest of stockholders. The work we do is on behalf of growing business for our clients. It’s not about us, or our personal agendas, it’s about women in Chicago with 2.5 kids and household incomes of $80K or more. But don’t get me wrong, expressing the wants and needs of others does hold an exceptional opportunity for creativity — it’s why I smile each day when I stroll into work.

Just don’t get confused, my job isn’t about creating art, it’s about problem solving. And though personal insights, opinions and favorite colors do influence the ads we create for others — we are acutely aware of who’s paying the bills, and most importantly, the integrity of the brands they stand behind.

But from time to time, as both an individual as well as an agency, you long to scream your own beliefs with your own voice — to fly the ubiquitous freaky flag.

And many agencies have fostered “inside projects” ranging from gallery night shows to allowing their creative staff use of company equipment for personal expression. It’s something B+L has done in the past from time to time. But lately, this topic has grown into a dialogue about giving back to the world — an opportunity to show off our capabilities through the free speech of employees, or outsiders for that matter.

And it’s no surprise — we’re really in the entertainment industry, right? It’s what we do best for the brands we represent, so why stop the show at the boardroom door? Why not add a little extra beauty to our media stream? One does make the other stronger after all.

I won’t say it’s the responsibility of agencies to give some love back to their communities (sans the sell message), but at B+L, we feel pretty strongly about it.

So don’t be shocked to see some non-client driven creativity kicked outta here. In fact, we’re tossing around some ideas to help facilitate the independent visions of some young artists as well. It’s our contribution to the collective gallery of the world. And we’d love to see this catch on — as art programs in schools decline, maybe more corporate capabilities can pick up the slack. We’ll keep you posted…not to mention, entertained.