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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)