SCA is a Paradox and Edzai knows the answer – By @FMickshik

SCA is a Paradox and Edzai knows the answer

We’re 4 weeks in now. Still SCA newbies. But are we? 4 weeks is a month. Into a ten-month course. So we’re a tenth of the way through – that sounds like a lot, all of a sudden. So we’re still amateurs, but a significant chunk of time has passed. On every brief that’s set, there are a huge number of questions, (ALWAYS QUESTION THE BRIEF!) there’s a persistent, collective voice of self-doubt in Brixton, and yet people are already producing work that is spellbinding. I think almost everyone has already come out with something that everyone else has liked. People who doubt themselves are starting to win briefs. 

These are a few of the little paradoxes that have been running as an early undercurrent to our year, who we now know are called Checkout. As it happens, Paradox was an early contender for our name in my group, before we went with Bravo Charlie. Paradox was considered because a lot of what we do is paradoxical, inconsistent, self-contradictory. 

Last Monday’s fiery debate illustrated this perfectly; we sell or we die; we carry a greater purpose or people hate us. We must give back to society; we’re contributing to everything that’s wrong. We’re an industry viewed as less trustworthy than politicians (REALLY?), yet our job is to find truth and communicate it.

Paradoxes underpin advertising, contradictions seep into SCA. We’re encouraged to question each and every brief, but sometimes we don’t get further clarity in the answers. There’s one piece of advice that I’ve been sticking to amid all of this: “do anything you want unless explicitly told not to… and even then take it with a pinch of salt.” 

Edzai came up with this masterstroke in week one, while gleefully exterminating his water bottle, and I’ve been applying it to briefs ever since. Are we submitting one scamp per person or a campaign? Are we submitting hand-drawn scamps or can we use Adobe? Are our posters for POP sellers or Afro-Caribbean food in general? Should our work be purpose-driven? Sales-driven? Funny? Emotional? Sticky? 

Do anything you want, unless explicitly told not to. And even then take it with a pinch of salt.

It’s great advice. It’s perfect for life as a creative. It’s our job to answer briefs, these briefs have rules. As Vic’s improv class taught us, creativity with rules is easier than creativity with no rules – yet we’re actively encouraged to break the rules. But only a bit. Or a lot – if the work is good enough. Another saucy paradox. We’re rule-breakers, we’re rule followers, we have the freedom of a bird, we have the confines of a prisoner, and our clients keep the keys. 

Numerous mentors have already boasted of how many times they’ve been fired. Spoken cheerily of working at agencies where they clashed with the suits, the clients or weren’t given the freedom they needed to unleash their powers. A clash of attitudes perhaps. Can any of us afford to be fired in the next ten years? I’m certainly not planning on being booted out of my placement after 2 months, but if my partner and I can capture the right level of irreverence, maybe that placement will turn into a job, and that job into a long, successful and rewarding career. When I’m President of D&AD I’ll be buying Edzai a beer. 

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