Skip to main content

The designated driver: Drunk only on the feeling of righteousness.

Insurance Corp. of British Columbia/Insurance Corp. of British Columbia

1 Uh oh. We don't want to make ad agency bosses paranoid, but don't be surprised if they start looking at employees in their creative departments with a little suspicion: A new study out of Harvard Business School suggests there might be a connection between creativity and dishonesty. The paper, which is based in part on research conducted at an unnamed ad agency, also found that merely inducing people to think creatively tends to produce unethical behaviour. The authors suggest that might have wider implications, especially for corporations bent on unleashing their employees' creativity. Which is a good point: Some of the most creative people we've ever met at ad agencies have been in the accounting department.

2. We're referring, of course, to their notorious love of haikus; bean counters can't get enough of Japanese verse, right? And this week the number crunchers came out with some pure economic poetry: The media buying firm Zenith Optimedia predicted global ad spending will rise 4.7 per cent next year, driven by the so-called "quadrennial effect" (the U.S. presidential campaign, the Olympics, and the European Football Championships). Zenith said marketers will unload some of the cash they've been hoarding in order to goose market share and spur more consumption among consumers. True, we probably can't afford it, but our accountant tells us we're doing fine. Though we'd probably feel a little more confident if he didn't issue our quarterly updates in iambic pentameter.

3. Okay, he has been drinking more these days, but we just chalked it up to the holiday season. How else is he supposed to endure the non-stop thrum of The Little Drummer Boy in every single damn mall? For our part, we've found a worse seasonal affliction: designated driver ads that fib, making it look like being a DD is a lot of fun. Which is why we were so pleased to see the new DD spot sponsored by the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia. It shows the lonely reality of being a DD: silently indulging your friends as they get obnoxiously drunk, become too affectionate, break into noisy song in your car, and then pass out on the way home. (Huh: We just realized that's like working at an ad agency.)

Story continues below advertisement

4. Is it okay to go to the movies these days after you've had a drink or two? Because Cineplex recently rolled out a couple of new interactive ads, including one developed by Y&R's Toronto office for Ford Motor Co. of Canada, which requires audience members to make a series of split-second decisions while watching a 60-second ad on the big screen. Viewers who download the TimePlay app to their phones can vote on whether they will collectively watch one narrative (which follows – surprise! – a hot guy) or the other (which follows – surprise! – a hot gal). Every 15 seconds or so, they can vote to switch to the other film. Thing is, we've watched both full 60-second spots, and still can't make head nor tail of what's going on. But then, we're not very creative. (Hey, at least we're honest.)

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at