Australian creative industry needs more positivity

Interbrand MD David Rennie
By Interbrand MD David Rennie | 8 February 2019
David Rennie

Campaign Brief comments are about as positive as the Daily Mail comments during political coverage. For a bunch of people who get to work in such a vibrant industry, we throw a fair amount of shit at each other.

Head to the comment thread of Campaign Brief any day of the week and you’ll see great work, sometimes even iconic work, being met with these comments:

  • “Seen it before and it was better”
  • “I could’ve done that in my sleep”
  • “This sucks”
  • “Interbland” (my personal favourite)

It’s the same old criticism time and time again. But why? Why do people feel the need to anonymously berate others working in their industry?

I often ask myself what it is achieving other than impacting people’s mental health and confidence. Results of campaigns, rebrands and the like aren’t judged by pained agency types’ approvals, they are judged on results. What matters is effectiveness, creativity and ROI, not what an anonymous troll says from the safety of his/her keyboard.

We know that one in five Australians experience mental illness and suicide continues to kill far too many young Australian’s each and every year. The mental health of our teams is top priority and sadly it’s a battle that we have to fight on a daily basis.

As leaders, people are increasingly coming to us with mental health problems. Our staff already face the pressure of deadlines and the challenge of coming up with new creative ideas, so the constant critique of work with less than flattering critique is not helping us win the fight. In fact, depression in our sector is 20% higher than the national average, according to a 2018 report by Mentally Healthy.

These trolls are the same trolls that talk empathetic, human-centred and inclusive design practices, yet tear work apart without an empathetic thought for the author and the effort they’ve put in.

Take DDB's recent Macca's work. In my opinion, it was a fun, different and colloquial execution that had punters reading out loud with a smile. Nothing wrong with light-hearted campaign that raises brand awareness and has a joke at the same time.

This campaign will be judged on sales, awareness and media mentions, not by ‘Johnny Knockers’ who said it was a “lazy concept”.

Surely, we can collectively flip the script and raise the industry up as a whole to celebrate work from others like we celebrate our own. We know what it feels like to have our work torn to shreds, so why do it to others?

If we can all raise awareness of the great work that we all do, maybe we can get to do more amazing work.

I love the creative industry. It has given me an opportunity to see the world, work with incredible people and do some good work along the way, but I am sick of the negativity. Publishers and professionals have an obligation to address the trend of trolling in the industry.

For all you ‘Johnny Knockers’ out there, please think about what you are saying when you post in media press. Be constructive, not needlessly critical. You might not think your comments hurt the feelings of those you are targeting, but I can tell you it does.

I urge everyone in the industry to stop the hate and #celebratethegreat.

By Interbrand managing director David Rennie

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