Be inspired by advertising and work with strategy

For holiday reading, you could do worse than Dorothy Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise. Not only is it a fine and ripping yarn, but it also paints a vivid picture of those early primitive days in advertising when copy departments wrote the ad, and then sent it upstairs to the art departments for illustration.

Historical whimsy? You might have thought so, until reading Design Business (DW 13 February) in which it was argued that brand strategists and designers could not be true bedfellows because for design consultancies to contribute to strategy (whether corporate or brand) was ‘too broad a remit’ and not likely to result in media-neutral advice. Shades here of the over-departmental and closeted world of Sayers?

Putting it bluntly, we believe a consultancy that cannot comprehend (and therefore contribute to) the overall strategic landscape is condemned to live in the past. This is not to say that such designers cannot sometimes create great work – as indeed the ad agencies of the 1930s also produced some great ads – but that does not make their days any less numbered.

It’s actually advertising that shows us why. Britain’s main contribution to the advertising world might be argued to have been the invention of account planning, the closer integration of strategy (corporate, brand and communication) with creative departments. It is a truly British ‘product’ that has changed the way ads are created across the world.

If design is to be taken similarly seriously, then we believe that strategists and designers need to also become natural partners: to sit, work and present together, whatever the project, to ensure that their solutions are able to offer the maximum depth and breadth. That they can not only meet the brief, but go beyond that and contribute to the business as well.

At Gospel, we know that it can work well. And we know that a strategist can have a sound creative thought, and a designer a great strategic one. (The notion that a designer’s strategic expertise can only come from ‘intuition’, rather than experience and skill, as your contributor suggested, is, we think, a rather patronising generalisation).

It’s maybe not an approach that will win too many fans among die-hard aficionados of Sayers, but it’s certainly one that our clients seem to appreciate.

Matthew Lonsdale

Director

Gospel

London W1

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