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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  it would solve the clients objective and  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.
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