That uncomfortable beautiful feeling

great ideas

 

 

The client was cool. The brand was amazing.

We saw an opportunity and got excited.

We cracked the idea and felt good about it.

We presented the full plan with enthusiasm.

We sold it really well.

Client liked it. It was a good route.

 

We killed it the next morning.

 

What happened overnight?

It just happened that the client liked it. It was a good route.

He didn’t question or challenge anything.

He smiled, satisfied, as if we read his mind.

He was too comfortable.

He could easily link the idea to what his product stands for.

He could surely see the sales potential.

 

Was this what we were really looking for? A happy & comfortable client?

Was this the ultimate idea that would connect with people.

Was this the next big one that would blow your mind away.

Our idea was good and the client liked it.

With a tiny ‘i’, a lower case ‘g’ and a boring little ‘l’.

 

There are 3 types of Great Ideas:

  • The ‘how come we didn’t think about it’ ones.
  • The ‘I wish we thought about it first’ ones.
  • The ‘fuck! These guys must be on something’ ones.

Being in the presence of greatness leaves you unsettled, a tad uncomfortable, speechless for a few seconds,

sometimes  for minutes….

It leaves you with a bit of discomfort, like when you are face to face with an unexpectedly gorgeous woman.

 

gorgeous woman

 

A great idea happens when your instinct tells you yes, but you’re not too sure…it takes a bit of time, then it overwhelms you.

The more open-minded, risk taker, experienced you are, the quicker the gap between discomfort & excitement narrows.

Good ideas sink immediately into your mind

Great ideas play with it at first. Then they blow it away.

 

Why?

It is simple. A great idea is one that goes beyond your comfort zone.

It takes you places you’ve never been. It defies the usual, the norm, the mundane.

It defies the brief. And takes it to a better place.

 

The reason we killed our first idea, was because it was approved on the spot.

It didn’t leave our client with a bit of discomfort. It was too safe and good.

We usually don’t settle for that, especially when we see the opportunity and when the client is up for it.

 

So next time your client smiles but tells you he needs some time to absorb & assimilate the work he just saw,

rest assured that you did a great job.


What does Obesity have to do with Advertising?

Peter Attia

This talk is interesting not only from a nutrition & health perspective (it might lead to a debunking of some long held beliefs about obesity & diabetes) but because of the scientific thought process behind it which we could learn from. It shows a willingness to challenge the pre-accepted hypothesis and to develop empathy with a situation rather than just passing quick judgement.

It is a demonstration of open minds, courage to throw out yesterday’s hypothesis, and a recognition that scientific truth isn’t final but constantly evolving.

So how can we learn from this for our own industry? For me there are two points:

First, although advertising is not a science but we should try to make it so – for example we search for an insight just like researchers looking for Cholinesterase inhibitors treating Alzheimers. The difference is that we shouldn’t debate, procrastinate and pontificate over it but instead invest in a true process of discovery.

Second, even when we do uncover an amazing insight, the enchantment of great advertising is not actually the insight itself but about taking a straight forward insight and turning it into something amazing.

The point is that ultimately advertising is an entertainment / creative & social industry. Maybe we shouldn’t be over-thinking creativity and searching for a holy grail, and instead just letting go of our inhibitions and enjoying ourselves (just like when we watch something that engages us). Let’s be honest with ourselves – these days whether a campaign for a noble humanitarian cause or the next big Soda campaign, the life span of an idea is a few days / weeks with a # before something else takes its place. So let’s be nimble, let’s be flexible, let’s search for entertaining ideas rather than unequivocal truths because there are very few unequivocal truths in the world, but many points of connection.

I’d like to leave you with this message from Joi Ito. If innovation has been broken down and democratized, then it’s right for advertising to be also broken down and democratised. The future is about not getting bogged down in words and statements and more about quick prototyping, experimenting, learning to trust the team and building on each others ideas. This doesn’t take the responsibility off strategic rigour, but it recognises that advertising just like Science and Innovation is about experimenting, coming up with quick iterations, building and breaking hypothesis and then getting to the point where we can make a creative leap to something fresh yet useful.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

#newwaysofworking.
Brenda.


A Half-Baked Reflection On Influence

The world is teeming with people we refer to as “influencers”.  Marketeers and advertisers will befriend influencers when launching a new product or a campaign in order to gain access to their entourage. We try to gain their favor in order to reach out to those who look up to them.

The word ‘influence’ comes from an Old French astrological term meaning “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny”. It’s no coincidence that ‘influence’, originally exerted by the stars, is nowadays exerted by ‘stars’ of a different kind.

Influenza’ comes from Medieval Latin influentia, meaning  “a flowing in”, which also refers to the stars, since influenza was believed to have occult or astral influence.

It’s the similarity between influencer-the-star and influenza-the-disease that strikes me as interesting — the concept of influence as an epidemic, in the etymological as well as metaphorical sense.

Are we influenced out of conviction or out of contagion? Do influencers convince us, or do we only want so desperately to be like these stars that we succumb to (and fall ill with) their opinions? The mechanics of ‘influence’ are worth a deeper study, perhaps elsewhere.


The ‘Socialmediazation’ Of Life

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 2.20.03 PM

“You should tweet that!”

You’ve probably received this advice from someone in response to something you said; something admittedly not as profound as your friend made it seem. It’s only normal to ask someone to tweet what they just said, of course. It’s akin to the knee-jerk reflex when the doctor taps your tendon with a hammer.

“You should tweet that!” That’s the new, natural ending to a conversation. That’s evolution, baby.

(-_-)

Your napkin sits lightly on your lap. Crumbs on the table tell of your skirmishes with the bread sticks and butter. In your peripheral vision you spot the waiter approaching with a tray. You turn to your friends to express your joy about the food’s arrival.

But then,

As the waiter comes closer, three out of the four people at the table have already pulled out their phones to Instagram their plates. It’s the new saying grace, the new “بسم الله” before you eat.

(O.O)

Were you at the Metallica concert? Did you check in on Foursquare? Did you then upload photos of yourself to Facebook, standing in a sea of ebbing humanity, with the stage (and maybe even James Hetfield) behind you, miles away, the size of a pinhead?

If you did, then inspect those photos for a moment. Inspect the background, notice smart phone screens in the air as hundreds, thousands (who’s counting, right?) of people are taking videos of the concert with one hand as the other hand flashes the sign of the horn.

Your photos document this convergence of an outdated “heavy metal” hand gesture with the more contemporary addiction to documentation.

An addiction to the ‘socialmediazation’ of life.

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 2.20.15 PM

\m/(>_<)\m/

Kik it, Vine it, upload it to YouTube. Or pin it, GIF it, tag it, share it. Send it out like a ripple; a digital echo diffusing into the vast virtual space. It’s all exhibitionists and voyeurs out there. Feed them.

But when you’re finished, right before your phone battery runs out, or just as your dried-up eyes start begging you to go to sleep, ask yourself these:

Were you really there in that moment? Did you ‘experience’ it?

Or were you too busy reporting it to the internet? Did you really want to be there, or did you just want to be able to say you were there; to show off  how much life you’re living? Did you feel anything or were you too preoccupied with publishing the fun you were ‘having’?

Come back. The moment needs you.

=====

PS: At a public art exhibition on JBR two months back, a lovely European violinist performed on the sidewalk in a flowing red dress, her melancholic melodies riding on the night’s lazy seaside breeze. As people passed by, they snapped photos or took videos of this rare presence. They stood there just long enough for the photo/video before moving on to the next ‘thing’. No one stopped to actually listen or watch her perform.


Telling your story.

Previously, I’ve written about the progress of Marketing and Communications over time (Marketing Era’s; From-functional-to-aspirational-to-meaningful-economy). One might argue that such definition of trends and cycles is outdated even irrelevant, since the pace of change in society and culture today is so fast, things move on before we can even discuss them. But, I still believe it is worthwhile to scope out the landscape we are working in, if for nothing else, just to know its modus operandi. Also it is worthwhile (1) to understand the changes in people’s behavior and how to deal with them (policies, products, conversations). (2) To understand the effects of these changes and how to navigate the future. After all, the intelligent brand/ corporation is one who can adapt and be ready for the future.

With that in mind, I believe that the current cycle is one of conversation / experience. More than that, it is one where stories shine. If we consider the rise of WordPress, tumblr, wordpad and even Pinterest and Instagram, I believe one thing they have in common is the idea of sharing our ‘stories’ with people. Even when we tweet we are sharing a ‘story’ of sorts.

Thanks to (as a result of) the digital revolution, people have become accustomed to giving more media more of their time. People spend short – sometimes long – chunks of time engaged in watching videos (Vimeo, youtube), reading (slideshare, blogs, facebook and twitter links), playing games (with all the emotions they involve). Only an interesting ‘story’ makes people do that.

If you look at the print ads below (source: Archive magazine vol.3 2012), you will see that they tell interesting stories. They engage people with an introduction, main plot and conclusion of sorts.

The notion of stories in marketing is not new. But what I believe is important is the way we look at stories from a brand viewpoint.

A brand story is not just a manifesto. Everything the brand does is part of its storyline. And unlike in the past, the ‘storyline’ doesn’t need to continue identically through all communication touchpoints. In fact, we can consider all touchpoints and all aspects of the brand as having unique stories with unique sub-plots, characters and settings across all touchpoints. They don’t all need to look or feel or sound identical. As long as they tell the story in total. At different points in time, one outweighs the other (see diagram below).

So next time you’re briefing your agency, make sure they understand and have a plan to tell your brand story though various touchpoints and that each touchpoint has its own engaging story and emotion. That’s what we do for our brands ;) It’s what keeps our work fresh, intriguing and interesting.


Empty Promises

Sometimes I am so inspired by certain things in business. These days SME’s and Entrepreneurs in the region are doing things differently to the way they had been before the new economy. They are customer service oriented and in fact they are a direct result of errors (read: opportunities) that have arisen from old ways of working. A few businesses are really reaching out to their customers and being open and transparent and providing added-value.

But then, I read and / or experience certain things and realize that some people / organizations are not yet hitting the mark.

Like this proud claim I read on a piece of communication recently: “The Largest Loyalty program in the region”.

What exactly does that mean? Is it the largest by number of subscribers? Or the largest by number of outlets that are part of the program? In any case, how does either of those benefit the consumers who are part of the program? What is the real benefit of belonging to the program?

So to those organizations who are still selling empty promises, there is a lot of merit to being the biggest and largest – but if you can translate that to something more tangible and rewarding, which will actually benefit your consumers you will find your business and your people (customer and employee) relationships will benefit.

Have a positive day :)

Brenda.


Peter Pan Syndrome

There’s nothing wrong and there’s nothing nicer than seeing the humor in everything. More importantly, in our line of work, it should be mandatory as it not only can act as a seed to a great idea, but can also keep you from blowing your brains out.

The best thing is when you’re fortunate enough to be with colleagues who are at the same wavelength as yourself. From a conversation/situation that starts from nothing, you find yourselves rolling on your backs from a scenario that you just created.

Not only is the “what” important, but also the “who”…..

Baddak Bateekha aw mawze hal marra?

What a beautiful sight it is to see department heads rolling up their sleeves and rolling back their years while mocking each other over a game of foosball.

Hearing the same excuses we used to make when we were 15 years old to escape a defeat and coming up with new ways to get on people’s nerves, there’s nothing nicer than seeing the kid inside a grown up come out.

Truly, those 5 minutes can revive your day.

It’s important to let loose and let go, it’s important to let the kid inside of you come out from time to time, it’s important to live young.