As technology democratizes access to execution, the big creative idea is going to become even more valuable.

Consultant Michael Farmer caused a bit of a stir recently in an industry Q&A. Farmer recently documented the transformation of HUGE by CEO Mat Baxter in a book entitled Madison Avenue Makeover. On the heels of this, in a Q&A published by Contagious, he echoes themes from his book that takes the agency world to task for worrying more about awards than delivering performance and creating thoughtful business models. While there is some merit to Farmer’s POV, it strikes me as a bit dated and unfair, particularly his harsh dismissal of creativity. He clings to the old trope that agencies are more concerned about racking up industry awards than generating client results, but he just might be guilty of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. To dismiss something as elemental as agency creativity because it doesn’t fit into a neat model that a consultant can sell is a mistake.

While it’s true that the traditional agency model is in need of remodeling, and a lot of folks are struggling to reinvent themselves, there is one core tenet that is unassailable — creativity is essential to generating positive client business outcomes. Yes, not only does creativity matter, but I would say it is the key to effectiveness. What Farmer fails to acknowledge is that we are getting better as an industry at proving out that our most creative work is also our most effective work. And in a world where generative AI and other innovative tech tools will continue to democratize access to execution and distribution, the big creative idea is going to become even more valuable to clients and critical to their success.

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