What the Beatles can teach us about creative process

The epic Disney+ series The Beatles: Get Back shows the sprawling, messy process of creativity. Here Bas Korsten and Daniel Bonner, Global CCOs at Wunderman Thompson, draw out six insights from it for creative teams to learn from

What does creativity look like? Not the art, the creative product, the noun, but the verb, the making of, the process. How do you capture it? Describe the mysterious magic of it? Have you ever wondered? Look no further than the eight-hour Disney+ miniseries The Beatles: Get Back.

Under pressure to write 14 songs in two weeks, Paul McCartney strums his bass, hums and mumbles along; George Harrison yawns, looking around; and Ringo Starr looks like he’s about to nod off. The scene continues, undramatic, sounding much the same. A bit later Ringo joins on drums, George on guitar, and Paul sings more clearly “Get back to where you once belonged”. Their next hit begins to form. John Lennon, clad in a fur coat, walks in, grabs his guitar and joins in. For those who know the song Get Back, this first rendition or experiment is rough. But that kernel, and the time spent experimenting, is all part of the creative process.

Directed by Peter Jackson, Get Back chronicles the making of Let It Be, the last album by the Fab Four. It’s a peek behind the proverbial curtain, revealing not only the musical genius of these young musicians but the palpable tension that led to the band’s eventual demise. Panned by some critics, most notably the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis who describes it as “eight hours of TV so aimless, it threatens your sanity”, as we watched it, we saw creativity in action.

There are elements that we, as creatives in a global advertising agency, experience in our profession: deadlines, inspiration, feedback, teams, pressure, iteration after iteration. While we’re not comparing ourselves to the Beatles, there are true marks of the creative process that are universal. And Get Back depicts them in an extremely authentic way. It’s a great reminder that the creative process needs time and space — which can be challenging though ultimately rewarding.

Top and above: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and John Lennon in The Beatles: Get Back on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd

Here are six insights inspired by the Fab Four about the creative process that agencies would do well to recognise and nurture in their teams:

SENIOR DESIGNER

MANCHESTER