Sunday, June 01, 2014

Are Apps The New Screenplays?

A lot of Creatives nowadays seem to be developing apps on the side.

(The picture is of an old BBH colleague of mine, Dan Hubert, who created the successful 'AppyParking' app, which tells you where you can park in London.)

This is new.

A few years ago, Creatives were writing screenplays. The talk was all about Creatives who had got movies made (example: Andrew Niccol, former BBDO Creative who wrote The Truman Show and Gattaca).

Before that, Creatives were writing novels. (Examples: George Orwell, Joseph Heller, Fay Weldon, Salman Rushdie).

Why has it changed?

Well, obviously apps weren't around when Joseph Heller wrote Catch-22. That's a given.

I think it's more interesting to think about what has not changed.

What has not changed is that Creatives like to be on the cutting edge of culture. In 1968, that was the novel. Today, it's the app.

Also, Creatives will always be attracted by the ability to do something that is purely our own thing. Whether that's an app, a screenplay, or a novel... what they all have in common is that they're unmediated by any client.

And finally - and perhaps a little controversially - they're all forms of lottery ticket. Being a Creative is a steady job (albeit considerably less steady than the civil service) but you're unlikely to strike it rich.

But with a novel, a screenplay, or an app there is just that chance that you might...


Anonymous said...

Hi Simon,

Great post - I totally agree and believe creating something 'on the side' is inherent in all creatives - it's an opportunity to have absolute freedom and follow your own instincts.

We did it with The Ad Pad ( - a simple idea we thought would appeal to the ad industry.

So, we threw a bit of our own money at it and made it work. It's now being stocked by some of the industry's leading UK ad agencies and is also on sale in the Design Museum as well ad Somerset House and a number of UK universities.

Whilst it's nice knowing your ad sold some ketchup and a few thousand more cars, it means a lot more when someone buys something that you have created.

Anonymous said...

I'd say an app is easier to execute than a well written novel. You'll still need an idea for both of course.

john p. woods said...

How crap it is that the app is now the go to creative bit on the side.

Scamp said...

Why is it crap, John? A lot of these apps are pretty creative and interesting, aren't they?

Adam Wells said...

Well I'm on my 3rd app now. No riches, but hopefully saving a few lives.

moonlighter said...

I wouldn't put screenplays and apps quite in the same category.
It's not odd for ad creatives to have side projects. In fact, many, many creative people have worked in advertising purely for easy money to fund their other, more credible projects. Personally, I'm wary of those that don't have other projects on the side.

John said...

I have heard stories that people who aren't ad creatives have side projects as well.

Scamp said...

For sure. Perhaps they're discussed on other blogs.

Anonymous said...


why are you wary of creatives without side projects? Do you think they're less qualified to work in advertising? Are their ideas bad? I'm just curious.

john p. woods said...

I'm sure some apps are incredibly creative and interesting. I guess it's a case of whatever floats your boat. Chapeau to those that manage to get from concept to production…in any endeavour.

Unknown said...

As a creative, whose created both an app and written a screenplay...i think i'm gonna start on that novel