Amidst all our gloom and doom these days, I ran across these photos and got a chuckle out of them. That is to say a chuckle, especially after I added a spur-of-the-moment caption to each. So, I thought I’d share . . .
We, the American Advertising Federation District 10, lost a good friend and a true-to-form legend (and not in his own mind) when John Aguillard passed away a few days ago. If you ever met him at a district conflab or national convention, consider yourself both lucky and blessed. If you didn’t, too bad; you really missed out.
John was a prankster and a very passionate one at that. You also needed to know how to take him. Some folks didn’t and paid the consequences. He was a very quick-witted and smooth-tongued conversationalist, and loved to lure you into one of his “controversial” conversations. He also had a wicked sense of humor.
One of the first times I met John, he dished out some satirical remark, and I responded in a rather direct and satirical manner, and, for a brief moment, John wasn’t sure what to do. He quickly shot back his delight in getting that kind of reaction from me and remarked to a friend sitting next to him, “I like this guy!”
One of my fondest memories was when we were involved in a major discussion one year in Dallas in the Hospitality Suite until about 3:30 in the morning. I was joined by Frank Kopec (Dallas), John (San Antonio), me (Houston), Darrell Boyd (Lake Charles) and one or two others. I was proud that despite the late hour (or early depending on your perspective), there was plenty of respect to be had. Continue reading
Anxiety, panic, fear, pandemic stress: The cornerstones of the negative universe. Yet, while all hell is breaking around us, can we still muster up the courage to innovate and create. Is creativity still alive or is it merely napping? Do we create out of despair or want? Out of necessity or desire? I guess that depends on each one of us.
In a recent article in Psychology Today, boredom is cited as an almost certain stimuli for creativity. Now, some of you may not agree with this, and that’s okay. If you don’t and even if you do, let me hear from you with your reasoning.
According to the article, which contains some very interesting points I want to share with you, you’ll see explosive creativity everywhere you look: in how people stuck at home are constructing elaborate recreations of their favorite artworks for the #GettyChallenge; or how we make ways to connect—whether it’s singing from our balconies or happy hour delivery via drones—while social distancing; even in the acerbic memes and uplifting stories flooding social media to offer inane distractions and inspire hope during this crisis.
Interestingly, quarantine and the resulting ennui (a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of excitement) of our home-bound brains have proven to be a catalyst for innovation. Thus, boredom breeds inventive creativity, as long as it’s the right kind of boredom.
Psychological studies describe five levels of boredom: indifferent, calibrating, searching, reactant, and apathetic. In its seeking state, boredom drives us to find something to engage and delight us. Think of the imaginary friend you had as a child; you did have an imaginary friend, didn’t you? Or the games you’d play with that certain stuffed animal, whose goal in life seemed to be avoiding Mom’s washing machine. Both scenarios seemed to trigger one’s own imagination, and, thus, your creativity. (Note: At least it did mine.)
In today’s society, real boredom escapes us; it seems everywhere you look, all eyes are staring into multiple-shaped devices hosting 24/7 news and entertainment. It’s as if we have to go out of our way to truly be bored.
While technology provides us creative outlets and a means of connecting when we are physically isolated from one another, these distractions are like the digital equivalent of junk food for our brains while good old fashioned boredom is a hunger that nurtures creative thinking.
What’s unique about this quarantine is that it constrains us in so many ways. Our typical means of working, socializing, and even provisioning ourselves have been dramatically restricted. And while people tend to think that constraints limit creativity and innovation, research proves quite the opposite to be true.
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Although the topics may vary from blog post to blog post here, one central theme usually always emerges: Creativity. Even before the nasty onslaught of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, creativity was quite important and pertinent in our industry. Now, it’s more important than ever.
In reading various articles on the subject of creativity, I found it interesting that the Brits are complaining about its overall effectiveness. One such cautionary study comes from an account manager with M&C Saatchi. Among others, he cited the legendary John Hegarty who called creativity “advertising’s special sauce” partly due to the significant effect it can have on achieving or even surpassing objectives and increasing ROI.
Advertising, to increase effectiveness, has to appeal to consumers by conveying emotions and helps to build memory structures, allowing them to choose a brand easily and instinctively. Creativity is the best way to convey emotion.
IPA (Institute for Practitioners of Advertising) studies have proven that creativity can increase ROI by 10x. Furthermore, communications that are built upon a foundation of emotion and that eventually become famous can greatly enhance the effectiveness of a campaign. Even with a fairly modest budget but a strong creative idea, a company can enter the public consciousness in a truly unique way.
Taking the idea and backing it with an effective use of budget can create a huge level of earned media, and by becoming news worthy, can generate a great return on investment.
However, creativity does not operate in a vacuum. Numerous other aspects of a campaign contribute to its effectiveness like media spend, and changes in price of products, for example.
That’s why measuring effectiveness with various KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and economic models is so important. Furthermore, as the “Saatchi Study” indicates, it is important to remember that while creativity can act as a multiplier for ROI and other measures, creativity should never be used as a substitute for solid media investment. The best campaigns have a good balance of both.
Clearly, a creative campaign that appeals to the emotional side of peoples brains, is memorable and sparks conversation, eventually entering into public culture can have a great impact on business results. However, creativity is just one very important part of advertising and not the sole means to an end.
But even creativity, as seen in some circles, is meeting with raised eyebrows as its effectiveness is being called into question. Might it be turning a bit sour?
Don’t Let It Kill Yours!
How would a “productive day” compare to a “creative day”? What would, if anything, they have in common? Chances are not much. One might think a productive day would be closely aligned with scratching off items on a to-do list. On the other hand, someone’s idea of a creative day might not even have a to-do list.
Our current work world is obsessed with productivity. We are inundated with books, articles, white papers, to time block this and time block that; all just to do more work. But our relentless quest to be productive is undermining one of the most important abilities in today’s workplace: creativity. What of the future, though? Will machine learning and artificial intelligence perform the routine aspects of our work at the expense of our ingenuity and creativity?
So how do we create the right conditions for creativity, particularly when we are trying to deal with a to-do list?
Consider this comment from screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (the mastermind behind the television show West Wing and films like Moneyball and The Social Network). He told The Hollywood Reporter that he takes six showers a day. “I’m not a germaphobe,” he explains but when his writing isn’t going well, he’ll shower, change into new clothes, and start again. Sorkin’s trade relies on him minting something fresh on a regular basis. And it occurred to him that his best thoughts were not happening in moments of fevered concentration, but when he was in the shower. So he had a shower installed in the corner of his office and makes regular use of it. He has described the process as “a do-over” for triggering original ideas.
In 1939, James Webb Young, a Madison Avenue advertising executive, wrote a definitive guide to the process of creativity, A Technique for Producing Ideas. In this short book, Webb Young reminds us, “that an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.” In his view, the skill of creativity is the ability to spot new connections between familiar thoughts, and the art is “the ability to see [new] relationships.”
Fifty years later, Steve Jobs observed something similar: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
Webb Young also lays out a remarkably simple technique for creative thought. It involves stimulation. Continue reading
We like to think that every creative execution hits right on target. Well, we know better even when we don’t like to admit it. A recent report from the UK, suggests quite the opposite, that creative effectiveness is being called into question.
UK advertising agencies are fast-paced, dynamic and produce advertising, media and marketing that many consider to be the envy of the world. One organization that voices their concerns, showcases their work and continuously develops their skills to keep them at the top of their game is the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), incorporated by Royal Charter.
The IPA exists to help members be the best they can be. They set the protocols for the UK industry’s best practice standards. They advise on how to choose an agency, how to run an agency or how to behave if you work in an agency. They also work collaboratively with members to improve diversity within the industry.
So, as this new report makes the rounds of the British ad scene, it will be interesting to see what the reaction is. It will, I dare say, be interesting to watch what, if any, reaction there is here in the US. If anything, the US has always been much more conservative in our approach to advertising compared to the UK. Does that conservatism mean our ads are more effective than theirs. Doubtful. It’s sort of like comparing apples and oranges. Continue reading
Not surprisingly, CREATIVITY is once again king of the soft skills for 2020. Based on a LinkedIn Learning report from earlier this year, Creativity was not only the most in-demand soft skill last year, it has retained its place as we move onward in 2020.
Furthermore, LinkedIn said, “Organizations need people who can creatively approach problems and tasks across all business roles, from software engineering to HR”.
LinkedIn Learning researched timely data from their network of over 660+ million professionals and 20+ million jobs to reveal the 15 most in-demand soft and hard skills of 2020. Persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence rounded out the top five, all skills that demonstrate how we work with others and bring new ideas to the table. Four of the five most in-demand soft skills remain in their top spots year over year.
The lone exception, LinkedIn noted, was emotional intelligence — defined as the ability to perceive, evaluate and respond to your own emotions and the emotions of others — a newcomer to its list, which “underscores the importance of effectively responding to and interacting with our colleagues.”
The one variation in the most in-demand soft skills list indicates that companies are gravitating toward talent with interpersonal and people-oriented skills. It’s notable that employers are placing more emphasis on emotional intelligence in particular.
The top 5 most in-demand soft skills are:
#1 Creativity – Same as 2019
Organizations need people who can creatively approach problems and tasks across all business roles, from software engineering to HR. Focus on honing your ability to bring new ideas to the table in 2020.
#2 Persuasion – Same as 2019
Leaders and hiring managers value individuals who can explain the “why.” To advance your career, brush up on your ability to effectively communicate ideas and persuade your colleagues and stakeholders that it’s in their best interest to follow your lead.
#3 Collaboration – Same as 2019
High-functioning teams can accomplish more than any individual—and organizations know it. Learn how your strengths can complement those of your colleagues to reach a common goal.
#4 Adaptability – Same as 2019
The only constant in life—and in business—is change. To stand out in 2020, embrace that reality and make sure to show up with a positive attitude and open-minded professionalism, especially in stressful situations.
#5 Emotional Intelligence – New
Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your own emotions and the emotions of others. New to the most in-demand skills list this year, the need for emotional intelligence underscores the importance of effectively responding to and interacting with our colleagues.
In a London-based publication on advertising, Shots conducted Q&A interviews with various agency and production firms around the globe.
They were asked one thing: How are you and your company coping with the current restrictions and what impact do you think they will have on the industry and your business?
In this special edition of Quotes, relating to that question, we hear how businesses are coping, what the potential fallout of this crisis could be, and about the initiatives being put in place to foster creativity during this isolation period. Here are some highlights.
Recovery will happen, however, many of the brands and clients we work with have other priorities right now and we are very sensitive to this. Sarah Cutler, Director of Partnerships, makemepulse London
Right now, the world is in isolation physically and emotionally – I believe there will be a reaction to this. Simon Hatter, Founder & Creative Director, Rumour Has It Amsterdam
As crippling as this crisis has been for our industry, finding ways to support brand messaging in a time where consumers are looking to them to give back is a vital role. Justin Wineburgh, CEO & President, Alkemy X
Our Chinese co-workers shared their best practices at a very early stage, both from a business and safety aspects. The worst scenario would actually be not to come prepared for what’s next. We must help companies and brands to be up and running just before lockdown ends. Olivier Lefebvre, CEO and Partner at FF Paris
Due to the fact that there is zero new business coming in… we also started to develop self-improvement ideas for the whole company. Patrick Volm-Dettenbach, Executive Producer, ELEMENT E Filmproduktion Germany
The world is also changing how it consumes media. Print will likely take a hit (Playboy was the first to announce it had stopped printing). Héloïse Hooton, Founder, Hooton Public Relations
It is simply impossible for any business to survive a period of expenditure with no income over a prolonged period of time. What we don’t want is a lag in getting going again and that is very much the views of the agencies we have spoken to. Spencer Dodd, Joint MD & EP, Merman London
If this crisis has one upside for entrepreneurs, it will be to force us to focus on essentials, reinvent how we do things in a leaner way. Simon Cachera, Co-Founder, Victor & Simon Amsterdam
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