It had to take a scandal to get the creative industries back into the national press. The shenanigans at Saatchi & Saatchi have made headlines in the broadsheets over the past few days with a regularity that no other creative group can boast.
What newspaper can resist as yet more top people defect, reportedly siding with erstwhile chairman Maurice Saatchi, and big-name clients get increasingly restive? The story might not have attracted quite the popular interest generated by the Charles ‘n’ Camilla saga, but it’s winkled out City analysts who foresook the ailing design and advertising sector a few years back as share prices fell.
Can the bigger design and media groups now expect more coverage in the financial press? Hopefully not. For a start, only a handful of design consultancies figure on the stock market, and they are not typical. Nor are many listed groups wholly happy with their status – and there aren’t many clamouring to join them in the share-price race. Size is not the issue now among top design players. It has more to do with survival, client satisfaction and quality.
Design could do, though, with clawing back some of its former media status. It could also do with raising a few eyebrows in the City, and in other seats of power. But if it is to regain the position it held briefly in the late Eighties, it must this time be through substance rather than through business games and perceived glamour.
The place for design is surely on the innovations pages this time round. There, in an ideal world, it would be noted for its proactive role in creating new opportunities for investment, for fresh use of business skills and for its value in enhancing the quality of life.
So how does design get into that position? The Royal Society for the Arts is already trying to do its bit through its Tomorrow’s Company initiative, but the gauntlet is still there for the Design Council to pick up. We look to the council’s new chief executive Andrew Summers to implement policies to bring design back to the fore, in a way the media – and clients – can no longer ignore.