The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Creativity Can Find A Way …

One of the things that bothers me about my industry is how they always talk about creativity when most of what they create is advertising.Of course advertising has creativity within it – sometimes, incredibly creativity – but often, the approach is to communicate the problem rather than solve the problem.

OK, so there are occasions when the biggest problem is a lack of awareness, but that is most definitely the exception rather than the rule.

I’ve written and talked about this so much over the years.

From my PSFK talk back in 2009 to my distain of Cannes scam to my adoration of designers and an absolute shedload in-between … and yet I continue to see briefs where the goal was obviously to ‘make an ad’ rather than ‘create a difference’.

This is not purely the agencies fault, in many cases it comes from the client.

Sometimes it’s because they need to support the retailers.

Sometimes it’s because their KPI’s are based on executional delivery.

Sometimes it’s because it would affect their remuneration structure with their agencies.

Sometimes it’s because they are not empowered to do anything different.

Sometimes it’s because they don’t actually care about solving, just producing.

And yet even in some of those approaches, there’s an opportunity to create a solution rather than make some noise if only they’d asked the right questions.

A while back, I had a client that briefed us on an ad campaign.

Got to admit, as much as I love them, it kind-of annoyed the hell out of me.

For me, that was like going to the doctor and diagnosing your own illness and solution.

So we asked why they wanted the campaign and they said they needed parents to let their kids do sport which was hard as they were worried their precious [only] child may get hurt.

And so we said, “If we can find a way to get parents to feel good about letting their kids do sport, are you open to it?”And when they said ‘yes’, it gave us the right to create bandaids that worked as badges of honor and comic books celebrating the power of sport.

Don’t get me wrong, if we had done a TV campaign it would have been a brilliant TV campaign.

But by asking a simple question, it allowed creativity rather than advertising to be the solution.

Or said another way, it opened possibilities rather than closed them off.

The reason for all this is that I recently saw a brilliant creative solution to slowing traffic down.

This is something that has been done in many ways over the years, including the brilliant Speed Dial by Colenso [video here] … but this was something even simpler.


[Or if you’re too lazy to click on the link, the picture at the top of this post serves as a clue]

Now I know you might argue that once you know it’s not ‘real’ people won’t slow down, but I’d challenge that given the way the brain works.

But regardless, I will be interested to see what the data says after it has been in operation a while, but compared to a multi-million dollar ad campaign, or even the prices of stationing a copper there with a speed gun, I’m guessing it will be more effective.

And that is why our industry has to truly embrace creativity rather than just want to make ads.

24 Comments so far
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This is much better than Colenso, not least because it was not created with awards in mind and has actually been used.

Comment by John

at least it was good scam rather than lazy shitty scam.

Comment by andy@cynic

What John said. Though I do love the thinking behind the Colenso idea. And I still love your bandaids.

Comment by Pete

A reminder of the power of asking why.

Comment by Pete


Comment by Rob

The best ideas are simple at their core. I will be using this post in conversations today. Thank you Robert.

Comment by George

I knew things were bad at G but I didn’t realise it was that bad.

Comment by Bazza

i like you so much fucking more when youre acting like a dick. a little dick.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s fighting talk.

Comment by Rob

fighting talk for the 2 biggest fucking wimps in america. im using the word big metaphorically baz before you get your hopes up.

Comment by andy@cynic

Best comment ever.

Comment by DH

I know you had a good relationship with nike, but how did they react when you first put the bandaid idea in front of them?

Comment by Bazza

Better than when he put his nike car idea in front of them.

Comment by DH

nailed it.

Comment by andy@cynic

Well we made sure they saw it as answering the brief so they liked it. Sure they had some questions (more about the potential scale of the idea) but once that was all solved, they were as excited about it as we were. As they should have been.

Comment by Rob

Good clients make good work.

Comment by Bazza

i fucking hate it when i agree with you.

Comment by andy@cynic

Don’t worry, it doesn’t happen often.

Comment by Rob

too fucking often for my fucking liking.

Comment by andy@cynic

Lateral thinking is incredibly underrated by business. I wonder if the advertising industry would get more traction if they talked more about that than creativity?

Comment by Lee Hill

That’s a good point. Of course the ad industry would have to understand lateral thinking doesn’t automatically mean lateral creative execution. Fortunately many people in adland do but unfortunately many clients want traditional marketing, however much they claim otherwise. (Often due to established remuneration agreements, which is easier than trying to identify fair cost for untraditional approaches and thinking)

Comment by Rob

The curse of the bean counter.

Comment by Pete

Speaking of creativity, I’m currently in the Apple village square-retail emporium. Not much creativity here.

Comment by John

John sees Bazza’s provocation to George and raised him. (which isn’t hard)

Comment by DH

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