Book Review: Creative Blindness (Dave Trott)

The second instalment of our review series examines Dave Trott’s latest book, Creative Blindness (And How To Cure It)

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Title : Creative Blindness (And How To Cure It)

Author : Dave Trott

The Blurb : Creativity is all around us. Not in art galleries. But on the train, at work, in the street outside, and in schools, hospitals, and restaurants. Creative vision exists wherever people are.

Key + : Immediate effect – from the first time you put it down, you’ll notice yourself actively seeking the creativity in daily situations.

Key : You’ll never be able to look at a pothole in the same way again.



You’re not going to come away from this book with a brand new arsenal of buzzwords and marketing jargon to impress your peers with. So if that’s what you’re looking for, save your money and don’t waste any more time reading this article, as this book is not for you.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, or to gain timeless, creative thinking skills that will serve you well, long after the buzzwords have lost their relevance, then stick around, as this book is most definitely for you.

Creative Blindness (And How to Cure It) is the fourth book from Dave Trott, who throughout his extensive marketing career has witnessed and experienced the evolution of the marketing world, from the Mad Men-esque advertising firms on Madison Avenue to the digitally-driven, search engine-conscious industry of today.

If you’re a fan of Trott’s work, you’ll already be familiar with the tone and style of his writing.  Hailed by Campaign magazine as the ‘Aesop of advertising’, Trott’s Creative Blindness very much feels like a collection of fables purposefully written to better illustrate a useful lesson, however, the events and characters in the book are all real, Trott just has this extraordinary ability to observe everyday situations and extract the creative potential from it.

The book is separated into seven parts:

  • Creativity in unusual places
  • Creative communication
  • Creative impact
  • Practical creativity
  • Create surprises
  • Creative illusions
  • Creativity in real life

Each section consists of a collection of short, yet fascinating stories ranging from around three to six pages long, and each finished off with a short yet powerful line of creative wisdom.

I don’t like to use the term ‘self-help’ book, but in many ways, Creative Blindness is just that. Rather than promising ‘amazing top tips’ or ‘five things you need to know to become the world’s best marketer and take over the world’, Trott provides real-life examples of real-life people demonstrating creative genius in real-life situations; you just can’t help feeling inspired to give it a go yourself and develop your own creative ability.

Throughout the years, Dave Trott has been a keen advocate of challenging the norm, and sometimes needing to rock the boat in order to make some waves. This book is brilliant for encouraging you to try turning a situation on its head to solve a problem, to do something different to what everyone else is doing, and challenge the obvious solution.

As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was already quite a fan of Trott’s, and have been meaning to get stuck into one of his books for a while. However, as much as I love a good read, life seems to get in the way these days, I get side-tracked and struggle to finish anything I start reading. If you’re anything like me in that sense, then this book is ideal, as you can dip in and out at your leisure or you tear through a whole section in one sitting, you will come away either knowing something new or with a new perspective on something.

Another thing I love about this book is that it also helps to restore some faith in humanity; life-saving mechanic, Errol McKellar, and the heart-warming trick or treating boys being amongst the most memorable personalities we meet along the way.

I feel the core message being delivered throughout Creative Blindness is particularly pertinent in a postmodern marketing world. Yes, digitalisation and big data now play a huge part in marketing, and rightly so, as they are intrinsic parts of our daily lives, but we must not lose sight of the fact that creativity is one of the last advantages we as humans still possess over technology.

This is beautifully depicted in a story in the last section of the book, in which Trott is in a restaurant with his son who asks the waiter about the type of spinach they serve. The waiter then goes into an elaborate description about the organic source of the spinach, and cooking methods, to which the boy is completely nonplussed – of course, all he’s interested in is whether it’s the same food stuff that his favourite cartoon character, Popeye, eats:

“An algorithm can relay scientific facts and information about spinach. An algorithm can make sure it gets those faces in front of every pair of eyeballs in the spinach target market. But an algorithm can’t make people read about it. An algorithm can’t make anyone care about it, or remember it… Because an algorithm can’t come up with Popeye.”

FUN BEATS DATA, pg 208-9

Many operations claiming to be ‘creative agencies’ don’t think outside the box at all; they’re going through the same motions and using the same techniques as everyone else, and probably – let’s be honest – getting similar results.

Creative Blindness reminds us that when it actually boils down to it, “creativity, once you’ve learnt to spot it, is your legal unfair advantage”.

Favourite line(s) :

In order to be better, you need to know what you have to be better than.

You talk to your audience in their language, not yours.

Confidence can be very convincing, which is why ignorant people can be so persuasive.

Score : 8/10

Verdict : Should be sat on coffee tables in every creative agency, as a go-to resource for when you need a quick shot of inspiration.

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