Are obstacles to blame for scams?

April 9, 2009

In light of all that has occurred since the Dubai Lynx awards it seems pertinent to revisit a piece published in Campaign on March 1. Five Obstacles to Creativity aimed to highlight creative issues faced by the region’s industry so that they could be overcome. Given that proactive work exists because of a combination of one or more factors mentioned below, is it these difficulties that then drive some to take it a step further into scam awards entries?

1: Lack of stimulus

Creativity demands that you have to input to output. The more that goes in, the more likely something inspired will come out. But where do you go for stimulus when life happens in the cloistered environs of a shopping mall? Does the region’s lack of museums, theatres, live music venues, art-house cinemas and design bookshops explain why some ‘borrow’ from other good work?

2: No competitive spirit

Perhaps it’s a result of geography or a lack of inter-agency socialising, but there’s a distinct lack of goodwill between agencies in the Middle East. Other fiercely competitive creative regions still manage to spur one another along and produce great work. Would more of a united front raise the bar for the whole region?

3: Disparate workforce

Every advertising agency is a microcosm of the society around them. As homegrown inhabitants of their environment they are aware of its jokes, fears, doubts and hopes – the vital stuff that makes brands connect with consumers. Can our expatriate-heavy media workforce tap into the cultural nuances that produce insightful, impactful, non-cliched creativity?

4: Risk-averse clients

For some agencies, much of the blame for the ‘cookie-cutter’ nature of the region’s advertising is laid at the door of their dear old non-risk taking clients. Presuming we already have the creative brains to get there, do we have the kind of go-getting clients with the vision to run something as odd and unfamiliar as the Cadbury’s ‘Gorilla’ spot for example?

5: Cultural restrictions

The region’s cultural sensitivities must be carefully negotiated. What passes as frivolous elsewhere can be deemed unacceptable in societies guided by strict religious values. With this backdrop, can agencies really push the limits and redefine the creative landscape with the same force as is seen in other parts of the world?