How Ads Get Made: "Creative" Process Revealed

94 years ago, liar H.K. McCann launched his NYC ad agency with the slogan "Truth Well Told." That was a big fat lie. Advertising copywriter Copyranter brings you instances of advertising lies and the lying liars who sell them.

Have you ever wondered how advertising "creatives" come up with their wacky ideas? Yes? No? Why would you? Well, you're in for a treat, or perhaps torture. An actual international award-winning advertising creative is about to divulge some of the rarely discussed "jamming" techniques used to form our Big Ideas.

The magical process begins when the account executive throws a "creative brief" (we bandy the 'c' word about a lot here in doucheland) onto the creative team's desks. To creatives, all account executives are assholes.

Let's say the brief is for a new fast internet service, with ideas due in two weeks. When I was a young non-alcoholic learning my "craft" at New York City's School of Visuals Arts, I would spend every free moment eagerly working on my weekly assignments.

Since then, I've amended the process a bit.

For the first week and a half, I will work on my blog, read blogs, visually think about internet porn, play endless games of Snood, leave early, and go shoot some pool.

Two days before the presentation, the creative director will stroll into my office and ask, "Whatta you guys got?" I'll say, with fake confidence, "A couple of good things brewing that ain't ready to be looked at yet." My response never varies by more than a word or two.

After he leaves, I'll turn to my art director and ask her "Whatta you got?" She'll say, "A couple of hot things cooking, not quite ready to...."

Panic! We both then dive into back issues of Communication Arts or Archive and look for good "fast" ideas to alter just enough to avoid plagiarism charges. If that doesn't work, a couple of my own techniques include typing "fast" (or whatever) into Google and Google Image and scrolling through hundreds of pages. Also, a very imprecise thesaurus like Roget's has saved my ass a few times.

If none of the above has worked, I will resort to lame wordplays ("surf fstr"—see, it's so fast we had to remove the vowels!) which then force my pissed-off art director to do all the work herself, and pull pretty layouts out of her ass.

Repeat every two weeks, or as needed.

For this, one gets paid well over 6 figures.

Previously: Awards Season Excitement