Bright Ideas

Preparing for failure

Stuart Whittle

Executive Creative Director

  - [email protected]

Back in May, we attended EVCOM | ference 2018, it was a fantastic day and for those who don’t know, the conference is a chance for live and visual communication industry professionals to come together and share ideas and thoughts about the future of our industry. 

Stuart Whittle

Executive Creative Director

[email protected]

This year, the conference was entitled Mind the Gap: Technology vs Creativity in the race to win new business. Panels and breakouts throughout the day discussed this topic, which, in reality was put to bed quite early in the day.

I’m sure all of you came to the same conclusion; “versus? surely the two go hand in hand, with creativity leading the ideas, and technology being used to bring that creativity to life?” well yes, that’s what we were all thinking too.

But the day was punctuated by three great keynote speakers, Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of ITV, and author of an independent review, published last year, about the future of the creative industries in the UK, Craig Fenton, director of strategy and operations at Google UK, and Wayne Garvie, President of International Production at Sony Pictures Television. Three media heavyweights who all told a similar story, creativity is everywhere, and it’s never been so important.

Craig Fenton talked about the amount of content that was being uploaded to YouTube (450 hours a minute, and growing), and how this user-led content is now being adopted by brands in an effort to keep up with the zeitgeist.

He reminded us of the creativity of children, and referenced a talk, given in 2006, by Sir Ken Robinson “Do schools kill creativity?”. In this talk, Sir Ken talks about how schools (and society as a whole) stigmatise failure, creating an environment in which making a mistake is the worst thing you can do. This, he argues, stifles creativity.

This argument was backed up by Wayne Garvie later in the day, who put allowing people to fail as one of his golden rules, citing the many programmes that he had been part of that had been a disaster. Fenton too reminded us that Google had endured its fair share of failure; after all, for every Gmail, there was a Google plus. They both argued that these failures simply led them or their companies down the road to success.



If we’re scared to fail, we never come up with anything original. How many hours of social media content must go unwatched for every video that goes viral? If all of those people were scared to fail, we wouldn’t have had the simple pleasures, like a salt-sprinkling Turkish chef, or a dancing hotdog. But don’t brush it off as trifling, if someone out there hadn’t been brave enough to lead it, we wouldn’t have had the #metoo campaign either.

It got me wondering about the creative process at fresh, and whether we allow ourselves to fail. In an agency environment, we’re under a lot of pressure to get it right first time. We often don’t have the time or the budget to make mistakes. But we do. We’re human.

For creativity to flourish in our studio, we work together, with trust at the core. If we trust in each other, then we can trust in ourselves to bring the ideas to the table. Not every idea is going to be a golden ticket, and as a creative collective we are prepared for our creativity to be challenged. But every idea that fails, brings us closer to success.

It’s part of fresh’s joined-up thinking, it’s how we make amazing things happen.

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