The Loss of Creativity in the Industrialization of Marketing

A guest post by Alexandra Ross, who has a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts Lowell

The most common reactions I get when telling people I graduated with a degree in English are: “Oh, so you want to be a teacher?” or “Wow, so you must not be interested in getting a job, then.”

If I had replaced the word “English” with “communications” or “marketing”, the reaction would most likely be a compliment on the versatility and presumed promise of my major choice.

The difference in these buzzwords? It comes down to craft-based talent versus mere functionality. Regarding the latter, former advertising executive Sir John Hegarty refers to its quality as “deplorable” in a recent interview with Campaign Magazine:

We don’t celebrate [copywriting] in the way we celebrate ‘Ooh, I’ve come up with this promotional idea and I’ve got everybody to run around Piccadilly Circus with no clothes on for a new suntan cream’ and that gets posted online and there’s no fucking writing in that, none at all, but that’s always celebrated. People aren’t being trained… writing has been subsumed into just putting a caption to a picture. That sense of writing, which is about persuasion and keeping somebody’s attention, has been lost.

What people don’t realize is that writing is one of the most transferable skills one can have. Good creative writing includes the ability to express ideas clearly, present convincing arguments, and even influence opinions and behaviors, and is useful and important in any industry and profession. However, due to the industrialization of the marketing and communications fields, creatives are increasingly being pushed out of the industry because creativity is not always measurable. While creative people can often already possess or quickly acquire the skills to be in marketing, a ‘creative’ is not always something anyone can just ‘become’. The price marketing firms are paying by eliminating creatives is a sort of blandness that defeats the whole purpose of marketing: establishing demand and purchase decisions through novelty, value, and uniqueness. 

This declining appreciation of creative writing is what I attribute to the disparity of job interviews I’ve had across different career fields. For example, I have had several paralegal interviews, and while there are a plethora of those positions open, there are far fewer copywriting postings out there. I haven’t gotten an interview for a single one despite being far more qualified for those positions given my degree.

So if you’re a hiring manager is experiencing increasing pressure to industrialize your marketing function, how will you ensure that creativity doesn’t get squeezed out of the picture? Start by looking at what creative writing capabilities you have across your team.

Is your company suffering from a loss of creativity? Are you experiencing pressure to industrialize your marketing function? The Paragon team can help. Contact us to learn more about our integrated programs and services.

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