Long live direct

NickybullardI’m bloody proud to be a direct creative.

There was a time when it was thought direct creative departments were full of failed above-the-line writers and art directors.

Some people still think that, oddly. I say oddly, because you only have to look at some of the direct work that’s picking up to realise it’s probably one of the most exciting, rounded and evolving categories.

But I honestly do feel that, in the shows, we are losing our way. What makes our category so special is that as well as needing to have a fabulous idea, we have targeting to make it utterly relevant, and measurement to prove its effectiveness.

But it’s hard. I guess that’s why it’s called a discipline. But the D-word seems like it’s being a little forgotten.

For example, here are a couple of quotes from Cannes direct jurors about the criteria used.

“Is the work universally appealing?”

Surely, direct should be anything but. It should only be appealing to the carefully chosen audience who will find the message utterly relevant.

“Everything is direct.”

So are we saying, a poster that I’ve looked at, an entertaining YouTube film that I’ve watched, or a lid on a coffee jar that’s woken me up, makes for an exemplary piece of work in our category?

Or is it just us? We, LIDA, thought we should get some other opinions whilst amongst the great and the good in Cannes. We invited various creatives and journalists from around the world to the LIDA villa to have a good old debate about direct. And to quaff some pink stuff of course. I asked the attendees to supply work that they thought should absolutely have won in our category, and work that absolutely shouldn’t have.

As you can imagine, opinions were had. And we realised; IT’S NOT JUST US.

It’s great to know there is a swell of pride and passion out there, a gang of the brave, who want to protect this hard–to-do-brilliant-work-in discipline. Who don’t want to dumb it down to be universally appealing. Because everything isn’t direct.

We’re going to follow up with the same ‘Direct is Dead’ event here in London, gather a global direct criteria for best in class direct, and pass it onto the shows.

Because direct of course isn’t dead. It’s thriving in the real world.

Long live direct.

Nicky Bullard is executive creative director at LIDA

  • http://www.tmw.co.uk Mark Reddick

    Hi Nicky,
    A very interesting and valid point of view.
    To the same degree, it would be like calling all traditional, hard-working direct work ‘advertising’, I know it sort of is of course, but its formidable techniques would surely seem overdone and presumptuous.
    I believe that Cannes judges over the years have simplified their notion of Direct as entries try their luck in multiple categories. I found this as a judge last year in Promo/Activation, as did my colleague and Chairman Mr Tullo this year as a judge.
    Perhaps there is one exception; Shopper; creative, one-to-one, at the moment of truth, targeted (yes, really), and measurable.
    Good luck with the event.