Anthropology and Advertisements

In his three-part series about creativity, John McCreery discusses how creativity and anthropology interact in the advertising world. Possessing both a Ph.D. in anthropology and 13 years of work experience as Copywriter and International Creative Director at one of the largest ad agencies in Japan, McCreery emphasizes that, rather than the anthropologist and the designer being one and the same, they usually work hand in hand- the anthropologist being one of the mediums, of sorts, which helps to transform the designer’s abstract ideas into reality. He also emphasizes the importance of arguments to the creative process. As all ads are only as memorable (and therefore as successful) as they are original, the presence of many minds can only increase the odds that the creative problem at hand will be solved successfully.

In the latter two articles , three advertising jobs are brought up as examples. In particular, the final article discusses the experience of putting together a European ad campaign in the ‘80s for an expensive new Canon camera. At first, all of the countries the team visited rejected their proposal, saying the Japanese camera would not sell in their respective domestic markets. However, due to the connections of one of his colleagues, they got a second chance, and this time they were able to pitch a successful idea.

They ran into more trouble when it came time to film the commercial. While they wanted to capture a father-daughter moment at a show-jumping competition, the European show-jumping season had not yet opened. But, as Japan was very economically powerful in the ‘80s, the ad agency could afford to film the commercial in Florida. In this way, the international collaboration provided everyone involved with more than they could have gathered individually.