The death of craft?

Today at the Cannes Lions festival Radio jury president Tony Hertz decried the death of craft in the medium, while the Press jury pointed out the Grand Prix was awarded becuase of simplicity.

Hertz told the press gathered at the Radio conference: “More of marketing and communications has become a visual business, the new technologies are all screen based.  Everything is visual and you can see this in the number of entries.

MArk Tutssel


“Radio has seven per cent off Cannes online entries. The fact is the whole marcomms business is concentrating on the visual and as a result of that there’s not a lot of teaching of radio skills, copywriters are expected to do it.

“Unlike the visual which people know and can mentor, with the retirement of people from the business young people now are not being taught radio and it kind of reflects in the work that we saw, as so much of it was not particularly well written, and that needs to be addressed.”

In the Press category former Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney ECD Damon Stapleton who sat on the jury said of the winner: “It sends a message out too the industry in terms of getting back to ideas. The simplicity of this work makes it iconic. This campaign stand out because of its simplicity and its an idea.”

Leo Burnett’s chief creative officer worldwide Mark Tutsell told Mumbrella in today’s hangout the industry was losing these “two dimensional” communications skills which had been bread and butter for so long.

“Two dimensional communication is still alive, it may be in a page in Facebook, in a magazine or on a poster, he said. “I don’t think we as a human race have lost that ability to read, but I think we as an industry have lost our ability to write and there is a deficiency particularly in writing.

“You don’t see many beautifully crafted beautifully written pieces any more. And if you think historically in the print category look no further than The Economist the late great David Abbott had the ability to use words so powerfully to connect people so powerfully in fresh new ways.

mark tutsell


“I think the craft that’s required not only in writing but in art direction, in photography, in illustration in the way we compose a piece of communication in the two dimensional format doesn’t have the focus it did when I grew up in the industry because everybody’s been drawn towards technology and this rush to use new world connective tissue they’ve forgotten the old skill crafts.

“But it’s still a craft and still a skill we need where that 2d piece appears, it can appear on any screen and on paper. we need to be able to tell stories in a very distilled clear way.”

However, he said he could see green shoots emerging in the industry which had been “seduced by technology” for the past few years.

Tutssel added: “It’s not a case of teaching old skills and old styles, its words and pictures. It’s like the debate we’e had for the last couple of years stupidly about the death of television we as a human race have this incredible affection for film. We stopped calling it television once we moved into the screen age, but its still a film.

“Magazines and newspapers are still part of the communications landscape, and it’s important we use that channel while it still lives to the best of our ability.”

He pointed to the need for renewed rounds of training for younger people entering the industry to harness the skills being lost.

“Training is important, composition words and pictures working together, be it  for film, outdoor or print,” he added.

“The quality of the writing I think is changing and we need the writers and wordsmiths who have the ability to create that amazing narrative in fresh new ways, and I think that’s slowly coming back after the last three years of being seduced and sucker punched by technology, it’s just the facilitator.”

Alex Hayes

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