Sunday, August 12, 2012

How Much Time Are You Spending Doing Stuff That You Want To Do?

I've just read a book called A New Kilo Of KesselsKramer, which is a collection of the brilliant Dutch agency's work from 2005 to 2010.

As well as the usual posters, films, and print advertising - including campaigns for the notorious Hans Brinker Budget Hotel - the book contains examples of brand identities, design solutions, social media, PR, music videos, fashion collections, "and at least one public roundabout."

They self-publish books too, like this one about a rabbit with an unusually flat head.

This is a poster. No idea what's going on, but I like it.

Even their ads for a Dutch telecom brand, called 'Ben', are startlingly fresh. ('Ben' in Dutch also means 'I am' so the headline on this ad translates as "I am welcome").

This one particular ad, for me, seemed to sum up their philosophy. It's for 'Poetry In The Park' and the headline, spelled out on towels, reads: "Do what you love to do."

KesselsKramer truly seem to do more or less whatever the hell they want. When I had this realisation, I became extremely jealous.
I remembered an old quotation - "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do."
Bob Dylan said that, apparently.
I think his music's bloody awful, but I do like the quote. 
And it set me thinking. How much time on average do we - and by 'we' I mean creatives in ad agencies, though anyone is welcome to think about the question - spend doing stuff that we want to do?
Obviously time spent at the pub, playing ping pong, or just generally hanging out with the other smart and fun people who work in advertising, is fine. As is time spent doing 'research' on the internet. Oh, and thinking of ideas, and making creative work... as long as it's for something that's at least slightly creative. They're all things we want to do.
Working on stuff that's shit, participating in brainstorms, and being in boring meetings, are not things we want to do.
There are a few grey areas. Preparing research stimulus, for example, is not stuff that we want to do... but we may accept it as something that we have to do in order to be able to do something that we do want to do, later. 
I'm lucky in that since I started my little Scamp agency, I do have more autonomy, and definitely spend more time doing stuff that I want to do. And over the course of my so-called career, I think I've been quite fortunate with agencies and briefs... so I don't know if my figures will be out of wack...
But I reckon the answer to 'how much time are creatives spending doing what they want to do' will - in a 'normal' job situation, be around 50-75%. Does that sound right to you? And is it acceptable? 100% would be wonderful but I think it's unrealistic. Not every brief can be a great brief, and not everyone can work in a super-cool shop like KK. So I reckon 50-75% is acceptable.
Of course, if you are in an agency that you absolutely hate, your score could approach 0%. If you are in a good agency but in the wrong job within that agency, it could also be very low. A score consistently less than 50%, and I reckon it's time to look for another job.
What's your percentage right now?


Ben Kay said...


I love every day at work.

Anne Miles said...

I'm wondering if the Parento Principal (the 80/20 rule) is really the place this falls in the real world?

This principal is a foundation behind Positive Psychology's theory of a successful relationship as well - that 80% of the time the relationship should be healthy, balanced, with time spent positively together and 20% of the time for mundane tasks or out of balance with each other.

If the common business rule of thumb is that 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your clients then how does this translate into the creative space?

Would it be that 80% of our time could be in supporting or doing what it takes to sell an idea that took 20% of our time to come up with... Or do we consider spending 80% of our time doing stuff we love as a healthy creative place?

Hmm much to ponder. :)

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on perception.

It's easier to wear shoes than carpet the world.

I remember when I first started I was so stoked to have an ad on a billboard. Now, it's got to be a great idea, with great production values, with a tricky client to get excited.

I won a few awards recently for a billboard I honestly thought was rubbish. Didn't excite me at all and certainly not the best idea agreed on internally.

Winning the award wasn't that exciting either, guess the rush kind of dies a little with repeated dosage.

But truly doing what you love? If you take most creatives, they want to do things that are worthwhile. Things that are whacky and capture people's imagination. Things that dare I say, could be compared to commercial art like Warhol etc. things that change a nation.

If you don't remind yourself it's easier to wear shoes than carpet the world, I'd guarantee 99% of creatives are only doing what they truly want .0001% of the time.

M Denton esq said...

I like doing good stuff.

I find it a little bit frustrating when people don't want me to do good stuff.

That seems to happen more often than it used to.

Still, mustn't grumble.