Babita Baruah
Mar 09, 2012

Babita’s Blog: The Business of Creativity

Babita Baruah, vice president and client services director, JWT Delhi, says if we start thinking of the agency and the client business as our own, we would be acutely conscious of every penny we spend or want to spend

Babita’s Blog: The Business of Creativity


As I look at the increasing number of creative icons- turned- entrepreneurs, I am curious about how they approach creativity and the creative process from the business point of view.

While I am sure they leave the finer art of accounting and commercials to CFOs or commercial directors, as agency owners, they are finally accountable for running a business profitably.

There's a reason why I am curious.

Because mainstream agencies often seem to relegate the business hats to Account Management and Commercial Directors.

Which is all very fine and is definitely part of the role.

But cannot be fulfilled without support from the other disciplines. Planning. Creative.

For instance, would we push for the office to pick up tabs every time for extra people travelling for a shoot if it were our own business?

Obviously everyone who is recommended for a shoot supervision has a role, but wouldn’t we be firm in keeping the heads to a minimum, with only people who can make a key difference?

Would we spend on mammoth size print outs for every layout?

Would we recommend mass promotions and increments, so that we can play good cop, regardless of the office budgets?

I can even extend this argument to client budgets on our brands.

"Let’s ask the client to pay for this", "Other clients always pay us for that" are common arguments. In Account Management as well.

So what if the business is tanking and the brand is challenged. We need to keep our expense account running.

Does every production have to cost as much?

Do we sit down and put our heads together to get the maximum buck out of the production budget?

Is creativity always about the best and the most expensive?

Or is it because in bigger agencies, the accountability for the business is not shared by everyone?

"It is not our problem" is what all of us like to retort.

Unfortunately for us, it is our problem.

If we start thinking of the agency and the client business as our own, we would be acutely conscious of every penny we spend or want to spend.

In fact, one of the ways some agencies have structured themselves is to make the trio- account management, planning and business heads- function like business units.

Accountable for the revenue together.

Things would be different if this was the norm.

All of us would think twice before we reached out for the biggest and the best.

We would be prudent about production budgets.

We would think sharp and smart, to ensure we get the best creativity out within budgets.

After all, for the consumer out there, the code word is Value for Money for all expenditure. Which is definitely not a compromise on the quality.

Why should we not do the same?

A few years back, I would have hesitated to write this.

How can agency people count beans as well? Won't it hamper creativity?

Now, after looking at the new creative person-led agencies and their businesses, I realise that being aware of profitability and business growth only enhances creativity.

Calls for more efficient processes.

Better hires.

Prudent planning.

No one has to count beans and work on excel charts.

We have Commercial experts for that.

But as senior heads, we will need to wear the entrepreneurial hat as often as possible, for the business to grow.

The views expressed are the author's independent views as an ad professional and do not reflect the organisation's viewpoint.


Campaign India

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