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The Big Table workflow model

In the May/June issue of Communication Arts (yes, I know, I’m a little behind), Joe Shepter’s commentary “The Big Table: A New Model for Creative Work” outlines a new way for advertising agencies to adapt and take advantage of new technologies.

Instead of the traditional model where the creative content is considered separate from production and execution, the Big Table offers a more democratic ideal for creative collaboration. Owing to the complexity involved in modern marketing campaigns, which often traverse several different media genres (print, TV, web, interactive), no one person can fully understand how the message should be adapted for each medium. In the Big Table model, each member of the team, a specialist in their discipline, takes the creative message and adjusts it, as necessary to fit the technical constraints of a given medium.

From a workflow perspective, this model will be particularly efficient, provided there is some consideration of the ways a given message will play across mediums and there is sufficient structural support to ensure consistency between mediums.

As an example, imagine an innovative firm is developing a multi-faceted campaign for a new car. Early in the creative process, the team needs to anticipate how the photographs of the car in a vast landscape and lengthy technical copy will be difficult to translate to billboards and mobile devices. Otherwise, the brilliant campaign will be an undecipherable blur at 65 mph on the freeway.

The Bit Table model for creative work offers the best hope for an agency to effectively negotiate the creative challenges inherent in today’s publishing and advertising landscape. For it to be a truly successful and enduring model, we need to become better at understanding the technical and aesthetic challenges of incorporating type, photos, videos, illustration and design across a variety of mediums. This will require the specialized skill of a technician along with big picture leadership to orchestrate the campaign.

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