I recently spoke at a conference and, right before I went on stage, I listened to a well-known chief creative officer talk about his process. He pontificated about his love of the creative process and ended by saying that advertising was art. For him, the 60-second spot best articulated the art of advertising. He then went on to say that if an advertiser didn't want to buy his art then it wasn't the right client and he'd find another client who would appreciate his craft.
While I was inspired by his clarity and certainty that he had "the answer", the process of crafting advertising is certainly more commercial today than he would have liked it to be. There are still vestiges of having "the perfect answer" that exists at the core of many agencies. Many pitches are essentially exercises in saying: "My advertising product is better than everyone else's." As he continued to talk about his "art", I noticed that the audience leaned back and started to drift, looking at their smartphones and email. The audience had heard this shtick 1,000 times before. It's at the core of what marketing used to be: "Buy mine. Mine's better." After his session, the crowd was asked to participate but they were already mentally disengaged.