By Trent Rentsch
I remember one evening early in my radio career. Middle of the night, production orders piled beside me, humming Simon and Garfunkel’s “I am a Rock.” In those days, unless there was another production junkie in the building, you really were an island. Several years later, two tools appeared nearly simultaneously that built a bridge to the other radio Creatives in the world. The first you are holding in your hands, the second you probably cruise on your computer every day. Between Radio And Production and the Internet, I discovered a world of like-minded Creatives to learn from, share with… commiserate with. They not only changed the way I worked, they also changed where I worked... and who I was married to.
I’m grateful for access to this world. If I run into a challenge, I can send one email to all of my radio brothers and sisters, and generally get at least 5 unique and valuable pieces of advice. If you haven’t taken advantage of the RAP Network, you are missing out on not only a priceless resource, but also a group of wonderful people who get what your Creative life is all about.
An example. Recently a friend asked me why I called this column, “... And Make it Real Creative.” “It SHOULD be REALLY Creative, shouldn’t it?” I admitted that the grammar might be off, but the sentence is exactly what a Sales Rep used to say as she handed me some sketchy notes for a commercial. It used to drive me crazy, because what I thought of as Creative was nearly always 180 degrees from where her head was.
His question did make me wonder... was I the only Producer who has had those Creative misunderstandings with others? So, I thought I’d ask my Creative Posse what Creative is… to them, to the rest of their worlds.
Not surprisingly, the first to respond was Thumper from BAF Soundworks (www.bafsoundworks.com). He’s not only a gifted Creative, but also pretty sharp. His speedy answer told me that he had already given the question of Creative some thought:
There are two types (of Creative), and it’s not relevant to which side of the process they are on. To the majority of clients and salespeople, “creative” means“anything to fill the airtime.” The word is used as a general catch-all noun to refer to the audio product. To the rest of us, it means something that has indeed been “created.” Not boiler-plate, not “banged out,” no, it indeed means something that some time and forethought went into, with the purpose of providing something that is both entertaining and enticing to the listener; ego-satisfying (and contract renewing) to the person paying the invoice; and professionally acceptable by the person doing the “creating.”
So, like me, he had obviously experienced the confusion about what Creative means. By the way, his name isn’t really Thumper. At least now he knows not to dare me…
The next response I got came from Tommie. He, like me, is a writer. Unlike me, the term “Wordsmith” applies to Tommie. It wasn’t surprising that when asked what Creative means, he would have a myriad of theories that he turned into a story…
(Creative Director) The script being used to convey the message, written by me or provided by the client/agency. Does not describe how creative a script is. That’s measured differently, judging by the need it’s trying to fill, using a myriad of other words (like myriad)...
(Sales Staff) If “the copy” is useful in getting them money because it’s different.
(Station/co-worker) “I really like that one.”
(Client) “Something that doesn’t sound like anything else. But not too weird. And did I mention our staff is friendly and personable? Put that in. And give all three phone numbers because we get a lot of business from Elkhart County. Something like this (hands over 1:39 worth of script he banged on MS Word one night after talking to some customer who told him he should write a commercial like he talks). And make it really good...”
Again, the confusion. Is it any wonder that there is so much conflict over Creative? Is there any doubt that I need a friend like Tommie, so I can learn how to use words like “myriad” in a sentence?
Then came the answers from Johnny. I’ve not known Johnny for long. Long enough to realize that he is a very driven, successful and talented Creative… long enough to be slightly depressed that I’m almost old enough to be his father. Check out his work at: www.j2kproductions.com. Along with his freelance company, he still has a “day job” at a radio station. A busy young man, his answer was to the point…
Creative “to me” means everything from the conceptual work done in writing the copy to the production aspect and eventually the final output. The act of being creative for a purpose. “To the sales staff” pretty colors look…. “To the clients” yeah what they said (pointing to sales duck). Harsh, but so very true…
So young, and already so jaded. So sad.
Then came Laura Lynn’s response. Currently owner and Creative Director of Redfire Creative Services (www.redfirecreativeservices.com), she has also put in her time at radio stations over the years. Yet somehow, she’s maintained an optimistic outlook about Creative, as her answer illustrates:
“Creative” means just that, something that is not ordinary, something that is unique, different, something that will set the clients business apart from every other Tom Dick and Jill out there. “Creative” can produce a Creative Creature... “Creative” can produce a Colorful Creature... “Creative” can produce an Extra Ordinary Creature... “Creative” can produce a Scary Creature. “Creative” can produce a Beautifully Devine Creature, but without the “Creative,” that creature would be just another creature not seen at the Creature Feature because that creature was not Creative enough to captivate the audience.
A good point of reference to starting off a Creative Commercial is to think of something that would GRAB your attention, then think of something that would RETAIN your attention, then think of something that would make you REMEMBER!!!!! such as... what would a Creative Creature sound like: perhaps GRR........ Grab, Retain, Remember
GRR, indeed. A Creative definition of Creative… now that’s my definition of “A Creative!”
So much common ground, so many different answers. I’d like to believe that they are all right, that there is room in the world for all the definitions of Creative. While it’s sometimes maddening, all those divergent viewpoints make those of us who actually have to make Creative happen think a little more, work a little harder, be a little better. And on those days when nobody gets it, when your Creative is shot down, remember… you’re not alone. On those days, I get by with a little help from my friends.