Creative collaboration isn’t just a shotgun wedding

Comment (DW 30 January) raised some very interesting points about ‘integrated creativity’ and collaboration. Although positive overall, it seemed to suggest that collaboration wasn’t yet working – that it’s more often than not a forced marriage of unwilling partners.

Michael Johnson’s manifesto as president of British Design & Art Direction is a positive ‘war cry’ for integration and partnership, but the example cited of Wolff Olins and WCRS on Orange is a particularly poor one in my opinion.

There’s no need to lock people away in a room and await some forced outcome. If the parties are suspicious of one another and questioning the other’s real motives, then there’s no solid foundation for real partnership and collaboration. Real collaboration is a meeting of willing partners who have a genuine respect for each other’s expertise.

We set up Poke just over a year ago with a business model built around the philosophy of true collaboration – fired by a desire and hunger to work with like-minded, mutually respected partners, delivering the best creatively-driven solutions to clients.

We resisted the temptation to try to be all things to all people. We recognise that we have skills that are complementary to advertising, brand and design consultanices, and, yes, even product designers.

In our experience over 2002, and with our recent win of business from Orange, we have seen a growth in interest from discerning clients that won’t accept mediocrity, or the word ‘OK’. They want ideas that are going to make them stand out from the competition and produce real results.

It’s a far from seeing ad agencies erode our offer by giving it away for free. We’ve seen a marked increase in interest from potential partners who want to look smart in front of their clients by working with the best partners and not simply settling for what may be available in-house or ‘in’ group – if indeed those resources still exist.

This is a very positive time for those whose businesses are built on collaboration and partnership. Johnson and the D&AD Executive Committee have a very important role to play in keeping the issue relevant during 2003, and beyond.

They are key influencers within the creative industries and their committed advocacy of the collaborative model can only help us all.

Peter Beech

Managing partner

Poke

London EC1V

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