What value an idea? Time for creativity to earn its fair share

By Johnny Pitt, Founder of Launch and The Creative Shootout,

Ideas drive business and are what makes any comms campaign a success – or failure. Assuming decent implementation, good idea = good outcome, bad idea = bad outcome. Simple view and a whopping generalisation, but mostly true I reckon.

As any creative knows, it takes considerable time, expertise and nurture to create ideas that motivate brand conversation and have genuine business impact. And our industry is full of very talented creatives. But as a profession, we often overthink and undercharge. Or worse still (knowingly or unknowingly) give away for too little – or nothing at all.  Crazy. And if you think about it, literally, commercial suicide. Or sometimes (and worse) plain daylight robbery.

And why we do it is a whole other discussion that Freud would probably have had a field day on.

But it’s now why Launch, alongside Dr Jon White, FCIPR, CIPR professional practice board member and trainer, has developed ‘Creative Value’, a new ideas-led evaluation model and pricing structure for comms professionals. And we’d like to see it develop cross discipline.

The context to Creative Value actually goes some way back, to when I set up Launch 16 years ago. Aside from world domination, I simply wanted to do two things brilliantly; ideas and the work itself. And this was shortly after I’d helped conceptualise the world’s first ever Big Brother (on radio and broadcast online – look it up, it was called Housemates from Hell and we did it with Heart 106.2).  What value an idea, eh?  What creative value!

My passion in 2018 is as intense as it was in 2001. I’ve no idea why the creative fire burns so bright (that intoxicating blend of interest, passion and enjoyment I guess), but it’s pretty important for both business growth and getting serious comms thinking valued by clients.

My two sons regularly ask me ‘how much does your sponsorship make you? Billions?’ (sponsorship? – they’re getting there in their understanding of PR and are obsessed about ‘billions’!) My commercially astute mum also often asks a very simple question; ‘do you get paid enough for all these ideas?’ (most recently, when we dreamt up a new brand name for a major company – and no, we didn’t!).

These well-meaning interrogations, coupled with the stark fact that the commercialisation of our thinking as an industry and the value of our ideas is a big, if somewhat dormant beast right now, has again led us at Launch to really question what we get paid for our ideas, why we get paid what we do – and question, is that right? Is it commercially sensible? Or are we, as practitioners, guilty of underselling ourselves?

It is time for commerciality and creativity to become properly aligned in the comms space. Agencies and in-house teams need the confidence to properly charge and pay for a great idea – and properly evaluate its commercial impact.  I know the evaluation piece has been heavily worked on, but somehow the pricing structure piece seems to have become a quiet subject once again.

Creative Value has the potential to ensure agencies are paid fairly for campaign ideas which shift the commercial dial and in-house teams are equipped to apply science (and scoring) to the beauty parade and communications’ profile is further increased, beyond the great work the CIPR and other bodies do.

We’ve developed a seminar exclusively for CIPR members which brings to life our thinking, shares come considerations and case studies on how to assess the value of an idea both creatively and commercially – and how, as an industry, we can start to attribute a greater (and deserved) price tag to our ideas.

The webinar goes live on May 3rd with Launch’s Babs Watson. Do tune in.

Photo by Bryan Rodriguez on Unsplash


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