working towards great client service

The blurred lines between creativity and productivity

Words by Hung Vu – S3372996

Last year, a song “Blurred lines” by Robin Thicke along with Pharrell William and TI has become a worldwide sensation. However, in this article, I will not write about love or give images of any scantily-clad model but about the ‘blurred lines’ that every agency wants to achieve: the balancing line between creativity and practical. To examine this topic, I have a chance to talk with Mr Le Thanh Tung – a current creative director of Yan TV. With background as a visual artist, he has more than 5 years working as a art director at numerous advertising agencies such as Ogilvy, Lowe and Saatchi & Saatchi. In this article, he will share some of his experience on how to be creative and practical when dealing with client demand but still being able to play around with creativity simultaneously.

‘I hate those blurred lines” – Tung is humming and trying to mimic the flirty face of Robin Thicke when we were slipping a hot cup of coffee. ‘I certainly do, though how long I have worked as a creative director, this part of the job always struggled me’. He continued. ‘It is not a thing that you can master; however a good new is you can practice and get used to it’. He also thinks that there is no ultimate solution for this creative-practical issue but there are some tips for advertiser to apply in this situation which he has concluded after many years experienced.

1. Practical creativity


According to Tung, to deal with this situation, an advertiser should develop the ‘practical creativity’ skill which is explained in the book A whole new mind by Dan Pink as an ability to flex your creativity in ways that create favorable results. As creativity is the capability to generate innovation, practical creativity is more targeted innovation and in this case is to solve the problems of clients (Pink 2006). To develop this skill, an advertiser should connect their creativity with research. The combination between out-of-the-box creativity with precise and practical data will be the best chemistry for an effective campaign. 

2. Be an active communicator


Miscommunication can cause many troubles and problems; therefore, clients and agencies need to make sure they understand and communicate with other correctly (Waller 2004). ‘Some advertisers are reluctant and not active in communicating with clients and I think it is problematic.’ Tung said. ‘The less information we have, the more likely we fear we are not going on the right way and this kind of feeling will hinder our creativity.’

2. Befriend with customers and build relationship

Another point he makes is that in this process the relationship with client plays an important role. ‘Some agencies focus too much on creative side and forget that actually the clients are the one who judge the ideas. The way you treat your client will hugely affect the attitude of client towards your idea.’ He believes that when the clients have a favorable look at your agency, the more likely they are to accept your proposal. And when the client feels good about agency, there will be more chance agency can play around with creativity. He compares this relationship as a comfort zone – a goal that both clients and agencies should aim to. In this comfort zone, both sides have sympathy for each other and deeply care for another side. To achieve this stage of relationship, building trust and commitment is an important step. According to Solomon (2008), by showing respect and sincerity, the client will feel better about agency and it will be a very first step to build trust.

In a nutshell, to achieve the fine line between creativity and practical is not a quick process. It needs step by step to have a good relationship with client and also the practice to develop skill by ourselves.


Words count: 650


Solomon, R 2008, The Art of Client Service, 1st edn, Kaplan, New York.

Waller, D 2004, ‘Developing an account-management lifecycle for advertising agency-client relationships’, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 95-112.

Pink, DH 2006, A Whole New Mind, Riverhead books, New York.


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