I was at the cinema with Louise and Joe when I saw the Adidas ‘Calling all creators’ advert – (stick it into YouTube it’s only a minute long: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLmpxY_XRMU)
The advert has a bunch of sports and music stars, nonchalantly sat round a table, talking enigmatically about what they all do and its creativity. At the end they invite everyone to join them, which is very nice – obviously not to actually join their swanky exclusive chinwag but to generally join in with the process of being creative.
Now I absolutely believe we are all made to create as creations of a creative God. I believe we all have unique abilities to do creative stuff in all manner of guises – sport, arts or just being thoughtful and good at our jobs so why do I find this advert annoying to the point of being offensive?
Here’s 3 thoughts:
- Creativity for the chosen few
As inclusive as the invitation from the advert seems to be, the underlying message is that creativity is something for the beautiful people, the exceptional – people who look great, already have an amazing CV and have the quintessential mystique of a bad Paul Pogba hairdo. The words say ‘join us’ but the sense is that creativity is something extraordinary, not part of ordinary people’s lives, something mystical to be reached for. The sense is that maybe, just maybe you could be as great as us and getting some Adidas trainers might help.
- Creativity as a marketing tool
The advert is insufferably smug and disingenuous. Sorry for the long word but I’ve found myself using it a lot recently, mostly to describe politicians. Insincere is another word for it.
Let’s be frank. The assembled stars aren’t doing the ad to inspire the youth of tomorrow. They’re doing it to make wonga. The noble idea of creativity is being used as a marketing tool. It’s being used by rich people by get richer in contrast to those who make the things in question. Adidas are co-opting a value to shift product, which grates on me when the message is one that’s actually so important – that all of us are amazing and need to be encouraged to express our inherent creativity.
- Creativity as uniformity
My son Joe gets the credit for this one. As I struggled to understand just why the advert bugged me so much he hit the nail on the head – they are talking about creativity, the idea we can all do different things whilst promoting uniformity – everyone buying their trainers. Suddenly ‘join us’ seems less of a benevolent invitation to eat pretzels with Lionel Messi and more of reality check that to stand out you to have to join in, to follow the global giant.
I think there is a better hope than following famous role models and hoping to be one of the chosen few. We are all created to create and we need to practice it and encourage it in each other. Creativity might mean a song or a painting but it may also mean making someone a cake or creating an event to help your crazy friends fix up their house, which is what a bunch of us in my church are doing this Sunday. Our invitation to join in is not based on being able to do something individually outlandish but being willing to join a bunch of ordinary people who together can use their skills and resources to make a difference.
For the record I have bought plenty of Adidas trainers. My wife loves to tell the story of me buying the same brown pair three times in a row. As yet, I can report that none of the pairs has led me to become a sporting superstar. With the passing of time the odds are getting pretty long.