Souls are being searched. Hands are being wrung. It’s as if the industry that trades in confidence has had some of its own taken away. This bout of critical introspection comes courtesy of the Cannes Lions’ Festival of Creativity, where this year the advertising types took home all the awards. The PRs returned having been advised to buck up their creativity and big up their ideas. But debating whether advertising is more creative than PR like trying to make orange juice with a box of Granny Smiths.
There is more than one type of creativity. Advertising, as a rule, does big and bold and brash. It screams out. It’s visible. There’s no intermediary. Its job is to yell and sell. The media space that will eventually become home to the ad agency’s creative work is a very expensive neighbourhood. Only the most creative, the whackiest, the most memorable will work.
PR, on the other hand, does subtle. It speaks more quietly, often through third parties. Its job, in a way, is more complex. Its job is to explain, engage and provide context so the other person can better understand. It can help sell too, but it does so through endorsement and argument and debate.
Here’s the thing: it’s not a competition, so why make it one?
If I’m the client, I’d like both to work together from time to time, for one plus one to equal more than two. I’m after the best results and will deploy the best tools to achieve them. Many of the most creative people I’ve met work in Public Relations. Many of the rest work in advertising. Both groups are equally vain and self important, too.
So let’s not spend any more time on this debate, on the surveys and the seminars. Say goodbye to any crisis of confidence and let the creative juices flow in all their flavours.