We all talk constantly about how advertising is a team effort, and it is. But I reckon everyone secretly thinks their own job is the most important.
Us creatives are perhaps the most openly arrogant in this regard. Bob Hoffman sums up our attitude on his blog The Ad Contrarian: "Creative people make the ads. Everyone else makes the arrangements."
You have to dig a bit harder to find the evidence that everyone else thinks they're driving the bus too. But it's there.
Exhibit A. This quote from a Planner involved in the Old Spice campaign: "Our strategy led to the inception of “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”, a crusader against 'lady-scented body wash.'" (from Cannes effectiveness submission).
So the Planners thought it was down to them. Yes, maybe script-writing (and surely casting) played a part, but it was all driven by the strategy.
But wait. The media planner on the campaign says: "Our communications strategy played a huge role in enabling the success of “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like."(from Effies submission). So it was down to the comms planning.
While a client voice on marketing blog The Essential Orange reckons that "A well executed marketing strategy was key to the brand’s success." Yup. You could argue the clients are driving the bus, and we're just singing the songs as it drives along.
Then this. I read a quote from a project manager the other day: "Talented people make great advertising" - he hypermodestly excludes himself from the ranks of the talented - but then adds that "a good process helps those talented people make advertising profitably." In other words, if it wasn't for him the agency would go bust within weeks.
And I ran into a senior suit, who works for a fast-growing agency that has recently taken over a business-challenged competitor. First of all he sang the praises of the creatives at the company they'd taken over. But then he averred that the management had been poor, and there wasn't much point having creative talent if no one wanted to work with you. In other words, he was driving the bus. Without him stopping the bus at places where clients were waiting to board, and opening the doors for them, the creatives would be unemployed passengers.
Anyway, I'm not too sure what to do with this information. Obviously I still think it is we creatives who are driving the bus... which means that everyone else must be deluded. But I suppose I have to recognise the possibility that we creatives are deluded too.
So who in your opinion is driving the bus? Maybe it varies by agency, and by account.
Or maybe no one person is actually driving, but there's just a forest of hands pulling the wheel in different directions. Which is why the bus ends up taking a consensus route. Or sometimes, crashing.