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


Illogical Logic …
August 3, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

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One of the things that I find interesting about planners is how much emphasis they place on writing a really cool proposition on the creative brief.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s really really important – however more often than not, it’s just a fancy way of expressing a very traditional point of view.

Again, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong either, however sometimes there’s an opportunity to fuck things up a bit … develop an idea that ignores the ‘fancy-pants’ proposition and just has a totally new and interesting way to approach the challenge.

Some call that lateral thinking, I call it thinking.

The problem with planning is that at its heart, it’s inherently logical.

It makes sense.

It all flows.

And while you need that to help a client appreciate the power, beauty and simplicity of what you’re suggesting – that doesn’t mean the whole process has to be that way.

When we had cynic, we had this ‘game’ that basically forced us to throw away logic, at least at the initial stage.

We had a bunch of cards – I think 400 of them – which each had a ‘solution’ written on them.

These covered a wide range of possibilities from ‘help the poor’ to ‘write a book’ to ‘open a bank’ to – you guessed it – ‘make a car’.

It also had stuff like ‘make them feel like superman’, ‘make them love the elderly’ and ‘encourage them to change jobs’ … so basically everything and anything.

What we did was place all these cards upside down on a table and then – once we’d clearly articled the objective we had to achieve – we’d individually pick a card up and then, regardless of the response, we would have to develop a ‘logical’ argument for why [1] it would solve the clients objective and [2] why it was right for the brand to do it.

Without doubt there were times it was near impossible, but you’d be amazed how often we were able to come up with some genuinely sound ‘logic’ for things that – on first impressions – sounded like utter madness, but it’s because of our ability to identify a clear and concise logic for some of those ideas that gave us the confidence to present them to clients and you know what … some of them loved the ideas too, which is why I’m still hugely proud that we got to do a bunch of wonderfully interesting stuff that other agencies can only dream about pulling off, from helping design the interiors of jumbo jets to creating a moped [around a countries needs, not a riders] to getting a hotel to install mobile phone signal blocking devices to positioning NASA as if it was a FMCG, to name but a select few.

Sure, not all of the stuff we came up with ended up happening …

Sure, some of the stuff we did turned into an unmitigated disaster …

Sure, we often ended up doing planning/creative development in the ‘traditional’ way …

… but I’m OK with that because apart from the fact a lot of ‘classic advertising campaign’ turn out to be a crock of ineffective shit, it helped everyone involved see – even if it only lasted for a single meeting – just what they are capable of developing and for that alone it was worth it.

I suppose what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter how creative you might be – or think you are – everyone can benefit with a little push to think broader, weirder and better so whether that’s with the help of some stupid cards or working with a broader team, don’t sit there thinking “you’ve cracked it” just because you’ve come up with a fancy proposition … force yourself to think outside of traditional logic because that’s where the truly interesting things live and where your brain can get a truly good workout.


28 Comments so far
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Another great post Rob. From a personal view I had a love/hate relationship with those cards. They definitely helped twist your mind into interesting shapes and places but they also are up a lot of time because you had to get past the piss taking before it would click and you started coming up with more serious responses.

Do you still use them? I still think there was a family board game in it by the way.

Comment by Pete

I haven’t used them for ages – mainly because I think they’re all in storage in some place around the World. But I need to get some again because I do think they make a big difference, even if it’s in getting the team to bond over inappropriate ideas.

As for a family board game, surely you mean a drunken party board game???

Comment by Rob

Remember when I added customized cards Rob?

I remember you’ve never thanked me.

Comment by Billy Whizz

The only positive I can give is that suggestions like “fuck a dog” would definitely be unusual for a brand to undertake.

Comment by Rob

I agree with Pete’s comment, those cards were great to push our limits but always took time because we had to have the 20 minutes of stupid answers before anything more productive would start to happen. Though you never seemed to accept we had to have 20 minutes of stupid answers did you Rob?

It was a great tool, I’m surprised I’ve not seen the idea used in other places.

Comment by Bazza

I guess some of us are more mature than others Baz.

Yes, I am calling myself mature – which is a sadder indictment on you guys than me.

Comment by Rob

And the winner of the longest sentence goes to….

“Without doubt there were times it was near impossible, but you’d be amazed how often we were able to come up with some genuinely sound ‘logic’ for things that – on first impressions – sounded like utter madness, but it’s because of our ability to identify a clear and concise logic for some of those ideas that gave us the confidence to present them to clients and you know what … some of them loved the ideas too, which is why I’m still hugely proud that we got to do a bunch of wonderfully interesting stuff that other agencies can only dream about pulling off, from helping design the interiors of jumbo jets to creating a moped [around a countries needs, not a riders] to getting a hotel to install mobile phone signal blocking devices to positioning NASA as if it was a FMCG, to name but a select few.”

Comment by DH

Oops.

Comment by Rob

Reads like you talk.

Comment by DH

I still use a set of those cards. I find them incredibly useful but they’re less about planning and more about active and applied brainstorming. As with most things of this ilk, they’re totally dependent on the attitude and capabilities of the attendees, but fortunately we were blessed with some of the best which is why after 30 minutes of pornographic suggestion, we would then start to get to some interesting places, some of which Robert has briefly mentioned in this post.

Comment by George

“briefly” mentioned?

And I assume you don’t have the set of cards in which every other one was “make a car”

Comment by John

By Rob’s standards it’s brief.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Good point John. Good point Billy.

Comment by George

Your ‘make a car’ comment has highlighted that my post about ‘reputation renewal’ [http://tinyurl.com/btxlhr8] was a load of shit.

Thanks for that John.

The funny thing is that I am currently working with a car company on helping develop their product before they launch so in some respects, my dreams have come true. Well, in theory – but it’s not really working out that way right now. Bugger.

Comment by Rob

I knew you’d finally acknowledge my brilliance.

Comment by Billy Whizz

If that makes you feel good about yourself, run with it.

Comment by George

“think George Clooney” is surely one of the cards.

Comment by aaronaldo

The women preferred “Do George Clooney”.

Comment by DH

Can I get a copy of the cards.

Comment by Davideviro

What are the names of these cards?

Comment by PokerMike

They’re called “Rob’s cards” because I made them … they weren’t something you could buy off the shelf. I wish they were … and maybe it’s something I should do given I know how lazy we all are to write some stuff out, print it out, laminate them and then cut them out. Ha.

Comment by Rob

You should do more posts like these, you’ve a lot to teach people and not just the junior ones.

Comment by northern

Very sweet of you – though I think I people will learn more by doing the opposite of what I do than listen to any advice I might be able to give them.

Comment by Rob

I enjoyed reading this, Robert. Thanks.

Comment by Marcus

At the heart of this, I wonder, is the debate around planning to use logic and evidence to justify others ideas and be ‘correct’ vs actually inspiring ideas and sometimes conjuring them
In my view, you can see work that’s just coloured a proposition a mile off.
I wonder if it all depends on the creatives you are working with too – sometimes if feels like a case of shaping and channeling with the better ones, while with others it feels like dragging them kicking and screaming beyond single minded messaging bollocks.
It’s amazing how many ‘creatives’ hide behind that tennis ball metaphor when it suits them.
Anyway

Comment by northern

That’s a brilliant game, great idea. It explains a lot…

Re: Northern – It’s become such an irritating cliche of a metaphor. I once had to debate it for 40 minutes because someone was taking it far too literally.

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

fuck me. i piss off for a week and campbell thinks he can get away with writing planner bollocks and everyone starts making comments that stay on fucking topic tangent. you bunch of fucking, sad bastard, crawly losers.

its good for you that im gone for another fucking week or youd be living in a hospital and eating through a fucking straw. sort yourselves out and remember what this blog is for. thats fucking right, getting business insider to recognise my fucking genius.

back to being the best fucking son in law in the whole wide fucking world. you have a week. make it bastard count.

Comment by andy@cynic

and i havent even read any of the shit posted in the last week. i just know.

Comment by andy@cynic




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