47. Cédric Quissola, Independent Art Director

Part-time Art Director for Y&R and independent graphic designer, Cédric Quissola has +7 years’ experience interpreting briefs and coming up with advertising and branding solutions for clients.

What is the difference between freelance, small, and big advertising firms? Big ad agencies are usually full-service: they have everything needed to create and implement creative advertising campaigns in-house. This saves time and money, but can lead to a sort of group think since everyone in the organization is used to working and creating together.

Medium to smaller agencies can’t afford to do everything in-house, so must outsource some of the creative process. This can make it more expensive but this can also provide many different angles from different people who’ll contribute to your project.

Freelancers may be even more limited in what they can offer as well as the amount of time in which they can offer it.

What is a campaign you have worked on? 

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What are a few misconceptions consumers have about the industry? Consumers tend to have a bad opinion about advertising, mostly because the great majority of the advertising they’re exposed to nowadays isn’t very good.

Part of this reason I think is two-fold:

1.) The once expensive software used by professionals has become more affordable to the ordinary person who lacks the creative training and experience to consistently come up with strong ideas and turn them into effective advertising campaigns. This problem is the same for other industries such as architecture. Just because you’ve learned how to use the software doesn’t mean you can build functional architecture. It’s the ability to consistently come up with strong ideas that makes the professional’s craft so necessary.

2.) Many brands with big advertising budgets invest in saturating the consumer’s field of perception, be it in books, on television, or in the metro. This makes it easy for consumers to come to the conclusion that all advertising is bad when bad or mediocre advertising is all they see. 

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Rory Sutherland gives an excellent TED talk on how big budgets can lead to expensive and ineffective solutions to problems.]

The right idea is integral to any successful advertising campaign, and most successful advertising ideas involve some degree of risk. But most of the time brands want something calm and risk-free. Everyone is trying to keep their job, so nobody is willing to take risks. And so agencies must do their best to convince brands that risk is necessary to make something unique and differentiate themselves from their competition.

The truth is people love good advertising! When people see advertising they like, the first thing they want to do is share it with everyone they know!

How can amateurs develop their craft? I have no real definable method. I begin by trying to understand the subject from different angles. During the idea brainstorming phase I go into my mind and revisit expositions, pictures, web sites, and videos I’ve seen that can mix with the product. Eventually, connections begin forming in my mind.

Finding creative solutions for a brief becomes more natural with practice.

How important is the brief to the advertising process? Everything comes from your brief. The quality of your campaign is directly reflected in the quality of your brief.  Vague and imprecise briefs cost brands and agencies precious time and money in the idea brainstorming phase, and the final advertisement will probably not be something that everyone involved is happy with.

In fact, most agencies hire strategic planners whose sole responsibility is to create the strongest brief possible and ensure that the idea in the brief isn’t lost through the various stages of the creative process.

From the creative’s perspective, one important aspect of our work is psychoanalysis. The brand’s identity is interpreted by their marketing person to the agency’s strategic planner, who then interprets the brand identity nto the brief, and finally for me to interpret. That’s a lot of different opportunities for ideas to get lost in translation.

Therefore it’s my responsibility to take all of that into account as I approach the brief. Sometimes what people say they want and what they actually want are two different things. There may be incredible insight hidden in-between the lines on the brief, and if I don’t identify it, then the brand may miss some real opportunities.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Dominic Dangerfield, Co-Director of Speechmark in Paris discusses in greater detail how people don’t always mean what they mean.]

Therefore don’t automatically take what people say at face value. People change their minds a lot. Also situations and research changes people’s perspectives all the time. Listen to what people say, but trust yourself to do a good job and go with your gut, then find a balance.

What tips to you have for creating good ads? Less is more. Find the right idea and be able to summarize it in just a few words. Come up with a kickass brief and a good idea (which is the most difficult bit). That is the secret to powerful campaigns, regardless of how much money you have.

One or two of your favorite advertising campaigns? 

I have a small advertising buget, any advice? Make videos by yourself and upload them to Youtube.

Also, understand that creatives are always working on side projects and passions, many times for free for their friends; so befriend a creative. I often have a drink at a bar near my flat. Sometimes the bar owner gives me a free drink. So I once offered to help his business by creating a flyer to promote his bar locally.

If you can offer an interesting exchange, then creative professionals may be interested in working with you. So get out there and start building your creative social network!

How can I identify a good advertising agency? Creatives, the ones who would actually create your campaign, may have worked for multiple different agencies throughout their career, so the most important test is to ask questions about the agency’s philosophy to see if it is in line with yours. If your ideals and vision align, then the ad agency is probably a good match.

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