John Lewis PR chief says not all creativity is good - and takes aim at the PR stunt

John Lewis' most senior comms practitioner Peter Cross told attendees at PR360 that not all creativity was good - and took a swipe at the traditional PR stunt.

Cross, who was recently appointed director of customer experience at the retailer, while retaining his role leading comms, delivered the keynote address 'The infectious power of creativity' on the first day of PRWeek UK's PR360 event in London yesterday (27 April).

Cross has spent 30 years working agency-side and in-house and said creativity had often been his "light relief" from budget meetings, as well as a "foolproof source of energy" when asked to pitch for new business. He said: "Creativity is a comfort blanket and it's a trusted friend."

However, Cross added that not all creativity was "good".

"If I had one pet hate in the PR industry toolkit, it would be the stunt," said Cross, who defined 'stunts' as five-person surveys, staged photographs and people pretending to have a "fabulous time in the middle of the city".

"Yes, the PR stunt might create a news story, or a picture story, but does a few likes on Facebook from people who are really, really bored help enhance a brand or its reputation?" Cross asked.

He suggested that as opposed to creating stunts, the PR industry should instead focus on delivering authentic creativity.

After the address, PRWeek spoke to Cross about his new role, John Lewis' new summer campaign, and, of course, its 2017 Christmas ad... (see video above).

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