How to Make Better Advertising and Advertising Better: creativity, and no bullshit

13 April 2016

How To Make Better Advertising And Advertising Better is a new book by Vic Polkinghorne and Andy Palmer, who run the creative agency Sell! Sell!. The tome offers a no-nonsense approach to the bonkers world we call ad-land, all set in a neat little cloth-bound volume designed by the agency’s Lee Freeman. The publishers have kindly let us reprint some extracts below.


Advertising and marketing people need to lose the jargon. A culture of business bullshit has slowly polluted the commercial world. Engagement, low-hanging fruit, synergy, media-neutral, content-led, always-on, ideation, adcepts, holistic approach, storytelling, user-generated content, leverage, realtime 24/7, cultural currency, the list goes on (and on). This language is symptomatic of a move towards the unnecessary complication of the world of advertising and marketing.

These terms allow people to hide behind them, and mask flimsy thinking. They confuse and conceal, where the aim of the advertising process should always be to simplify and clarify. And they make the rest of the business world even more sceptical about advertising and marketing. Let’s drive the bullshit and the bullshitters out of the process, use plain speaking, and always simplify.

Creatives to the Fore

Creatives need to be returned to the front and centre of the advertising business. We need more copywriters and art directors leading from the front, running agencies, getting involved with the client and the strategy, and attacking the business problem head-on.

The loss of responsibility for helping to form advertising strategy has diminished the role of the creative in advertising. This has led to some of the brightest and best people drifting away from the business as their full potential is not being used, and to the good talent that still exists in the business being stifled.

People are fond of saying creativity can come from anywhere. And obviously it can. But let’s be honest, the best advertising ideas still tend to come from smart creatives. Let’s not be worried or concerned about this – they are the specialists after all. Ultimately, clients will get better advertising if talented creative people are given access to the problem, and the responsibility for solving it, from the beginning to the end.

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