Creatives have always looked for ways to beat their competitors.

That’s their job.

Always looking for an advantage.

You might start off trying to do a better ad, but that might not be enough.

So you put your creative mind to work trying to find other ways to turn things to your advantage.

For instance Mary Wells, a copywriter, got Braniff, a tiny airline, to paint their planes different colours: one pink, one chartreuse, one lavender.

She changed their strategy into a style airline, an exclusive choice.

Bill Bernbach, a copywriter, used the fact that Avis was a small company to position it as Hertz’s challenger, and changed car rental into a two horse race.

He gave them their company strategy: We Try Harder.

George Lois, an art director, took Esquire magazine and invented the graphic, single story front page that dominated the news-stand.

He gave them their punchy, main lead story strategy.

Now every magazine copies that style.

This wasn’t just pictures and words, ads or commercials.

This was upstream thinking.

Thinking about the problem before it got to advertising.

That’s why these people did the best advertising, they were thinking outside the advertising box.

So what happened?

Planning happened.

This upstream thinking became known as strategic thinking.

And it became a separate discipline.

It even got its own department.

Well, once you cut strategic thinking off from intuition, you’re left with just reason and logic.

The problem is, there is now no intuitive creative leap.

With planning, we now put “how we got there” ahead of the intuitive creative leap.

The logic and reason is more important than originality, surprise, and unexpectedness.

We’ve replaced creativity with intellectual book-keeping.

The strategy and the media is done long before the brief comes anywhere near the creative department.

This means all the so-called creatives can now do is execution: pictures and words.

That’s what Edward de Bono meant when he said, “There are lots of people calling themselves creative who are actually merely stylists.”