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Jumping the Queue
By Peter Lloyd
Don’t you hate it when you’re stuck in a long line of traffic and some inconsiderate moron zips by you knowing that somewhere up ahead some witless sap will let him jump the queue and get in line way ahead of you? Creative artists, innovators, and inventors face this temptation constantly.
Creativity in business inspires the proverbial tug of war between the practical interests and creative forces within. The practical participants, as a rule, would rather not rock the boat and choose to play it safe. When things are going well, they do so to maintain the status quo. When times are tough, they do it racked with fear of failure.
A company’s creative forces always prefer to break the rules, escape borders, and break new ground no matter how well things are going. Naturally I side with the creatives, but I also hold their feet to the fire. I hate it when they try to jump the queue. That kind of anti-creative behavior always results in bad work, failed inventions, and poor design.
Earning an A
As an advertising creative director, I insisted that what we would call outstanding creative work never failed to first accomplish everything required of an average, more pedestrian effort. In other words, don’t jump the queue! Before an ad or commercial be graded as A-work, it must first pass muster as C-work and B-work.
Going through the queue is like climbing a ladder. Creative work must ascend every rung of the quality ladder and deliver all the essential attributes of B and C work to reach the top and an A.
A C-car must go, a C-cup must hold water, and so on. B-cars go better, whether faster or more smoothly or with above-average comfort. A-cars are to die for in motion, features, and mouth-watering design.
A coffee cup with a square top edge does not get an A in my book. Yes, it’s novel, but it makes drinking more difficult. Nothing that I’ve seen beats the round edge. An ad that gets your attention with outstanding visual appeal but fails to convince you to buy or to change your mind about something misses an A.
Creativity for the sake of creativity has it’s place. It breaks new ground and gives more seasoned and responsible creatives targets to emulate. But only those who make it all the way through the queue, who rise along all the rungs of the ladder deserve an A in my book.
Peter Lloyd worked for more than two decades in the advertising business as a writer and creative director for small and large agencies and eventually on his own as a freelance writer.
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