Is there such a thing as 'original' advertising? Is advertising an aspect of selling or is it art? Is shock cheap creative? Is being offensive a cheap surprise? What sort of creative do marketing management really want? What are the tools and techniques needed to interpret ad briefs and what does it take for a pitch to be successful?

‘Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula’ (Bill Bernbach). Breaking rules in ad campaigns rarely survives research. So the creative artist in advertising has to bend them or at a minimum be a great salesman – convincing the client of the commercial wisdom of doing something that’s never been done before.

The course has a split perspective. Part of it provides a window on the concepts and grammar of creativity; the other part is ‘how to’ oriented: imparting skills in drawing up creative strategy and in delivering creative solutions.

The course starts by unpacking creativity at large, mapping what it means to be original, innovative, experimental, radical, and provocative. High-end creative art is compared with creativity in advertising – typically viewed as ‘second-tier’ by virtue of being subjugated to sales/selling or by way of being strategy compromised and hence Ogilvy + Mather’s mantra: ‘If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative’.

But once selling is seen to be about offering ideas and images rather than artifacts the alleged substantive difference between art-creative and ad-creative becomes blurred.

A further key in the course is that innovation in conventional art forms – from movies to painting – is over and advertising is the replacement avant-garde. Protected by regulations and ring-fenced by research it’s easy for advertising to be provocative. But – the course will ask – is shock cheap creative?

Both successful and disastrous UK campaigns are deconstructed. This analysis – along with attending to the advice of some of the great ad practitioners from Bill Bernbach to David Ogilvy – yields a raft of tips, hints, guides, and methods for originating and communicating ideas that affect consumer behavior.

Finally, the course looks at the most demanding of creative tasks: the speculative pitch.



  • Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
  • Saatchi Gallery
  • London Transport Museum



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