Anything you can do we can do better

Berney, Charlotte Jane
Francis, Nelson
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

Until the 1950s, advertising agencies followed the creative model based on the individual skill sets whereby the creators of the advertising, the copywriters and art directors functioned as separate entities. This model changed in the late 1950s when Bill Bernbach proposed that by combining these two skill sets – copywriting and art direction - creative and organisational outcomes could be improved (Levenson, 1987). Over the ensuing decades the dyadic “team” approach has been adopted by advertising agencies around the world.

While group and team work occurs in many professions, the dyadic “team” relationship seems to be unique to the advertising industry. In other commercial sectors, professionals work individually, developing their careers without relying on the attributes of the dyadic team. In the advertising industry, they function as a unit, are frequently hired as a “team”, and may work exclusively with each other for a number of years.

Why do the majority of agencies continue to seek out, support, celebrate, reward and sometimes almost deify creative teams? This research seeks to explore whether successful creative dyadic teams have any characteristics in common. In the context of advertising creativity, is there any validity in the suggestion that “anything you can do we can do better”?

I harbour no expectation that a list of secret ingredients will be uncovered during the course of research, but rather seek to explore and better understand the composition of the team and how it functions. What seems important is what occurs during the process of the team members working together, as their individual beliefs, values, and assumptions intersect within the creative environment and practice.

This qualitative research into dyadic teams uses semi structured interviews with the participants, contextualized by ethnographic observations of their environment, organisation and agency peers. Using grounded theory, themes within the data have been identified, analysed and discussed.

Grounded theory , Dyadic team , Creativity , Advertising
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