Quotes and Quotes

Each month I feature a variety of quotes from different personalities on different subjects. However, they all center around one topic: Creativity. Enjoy!

 

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. – Erich Fromm

There is nothing like a dream to create the future. – Victor Hugo

A good ad should be like a good sermon: It must not only comfort the afflicted, it also must afflict the comfortable. — Bernice Fitz-Gibbon, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Horace Mann said, ‘Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.’ Let’s paraphrase that tonight. Let us be ashamed to LIVE without that victory. — Rod Serling “A Most Non-Political Speech” May 31st 1964, Delivered by Dick Van Dyke/ Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Time is what we want most and what we use worst. – William Penn

Like the musical score, a mission statement is only as good as the performance it inspires. — Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

The heart of creativity is discipline. — William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Let’s gear our advertising to sell goods, but let’s recognize also that advertising has a broad social responsibility. — Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Why do musicians compose symphonies and poets write poems? They do it because life wouldn’t have any meaning for them if they didn’t. That’s why I draw cartoons. It’s my life.⁠ —Charles M. Schulz⁠

Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions, it rarely moves anyone. — Fairfax M. Cone, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

 

Creativity Predictions for 2023

Well, a new year is upon us, for better or worse. What will happen, nobody knows for sure. I came upon a recent article that provides some insight as to what may occur. These predictions come from a variety of sources, all tied into the world of creativity in some form or fashion.

I concur with the author of this article when he indicates that the beginning of this new year doesn’t feel so exciting or filled with promise. We’ve had three especially tough years, dominated by the pandemic, collapsing supply chains, a war in Europe, an energy crisis, political chaos, and recession. What fun!

Tom May of the UK publication Creative Boom has gathered the best predictions for what will happen to the creative industry in 2023 from some leading voices. While this is UK focused, it no doubt has resonance with US counterparts. This may be considered a lengthy read but well worth it.

1. The economy will contract

There’s no way of sugar-coating it: we are in for hard economic times. Jesse Reed, co-founder of Order is among those predicting that 2023 will see a continuing contraction in marketing spend globally, as spending power is sucked out of the economy. And unfortunately, that means that creatives will have to work even harder to secure business. But it’s not all bad news, he believes.

“Smarter brands don’t see marketing spend as discretionary and will know that in a downturn, their creative marketing can help them to take up a bigger spot in the shop window,” says Jesse. “So in many ways, it’s a positive opportunity for creatives to maximize the impact of their work in grabbing a bigger market share for their clients’ brands.”

And it’s not like there isn’t room for improvement. “The last few years have been characterized by brands throwing spend at digital advertising, which has become less effective every year as platforms become saturated, customers wise up or simply struggle to differentiate,” says Jesse. “Good creatives with an empathic understanding of their audience and a talent for taking ideas where their client’s competitors fear to tread should have no fear of 2023. They’ll be in high demand.”

Above all, then, it’s about being flexible and ready to react to a fast-changing world: not just now, but for the foreseeable future. “2022 will be defined as the year everyone realized 2020 wasn’t a blip,” says Jesse. “We’re now in the epoch of the perma-crisis. For brands and the creative industries that serve them, it’s highlighted the importance of continuously being agile in calibrating tone and messaging in their creative campaigns and advertising. Brands need to understand what’s prominent in their customers’ minds and what’s leading their decision-making – something that is in constant flux at the moment.”

2. Prompt invoicing will prove crucial

While there may be opportunities in a spiraling economy, that doesn’t mean there won’t be multiple dangers lurking. And Geoff Bretherick, creative director at Fablr, offers a cautionary tale from the last 12 months.

“2022 was a year of witnessing major shifts within our clients’ industries,” he says. “A lot of ups, but a few downs. Everyone’s been reshaping from the pandemic, and from what we’ve seen, taking more risks with bigger opportunities. In theory… great! That said, we had an unfortunate experience with a couple of partners that started as major contracts, and then suddenly, the organization lost their CEO, CMO, and over 50% of staff. Where does this leave graphic designers? Not in a great spot!”

The lesson Fablr has learned is the importance of keeping your output in sync with invoices. “In one case, we had let three months of invoicing go unpaid because we thought there was mutual trust in our partnership,” Geoff explains. “Indeed, maybe it began as so. But when C-suite personnel start dropping, their ‘word’ means very little. To that end, we still highly recommend, if you don’t already, billing at a consistent monthly rate, as opposed to the percentage of work done to date. Because right now, ‘We’re good for it’ means peanuts.”

3. There’ll be a tight focus on costs

John Ramskill, executive creative director at BrandOpus, echoes many agency leaders in thinking that the bottom line will be all-important in 2023, both for studios and the clients they serve.

“Increased costs have resulted in our clients wanting more for less – even more so than previous years,” he points out. “This has meant that we are getting better at focusing our thinking sooner and aligning our teams so as not to waste time and money.

“Fast and fluid lines of communication have been made easier by being back in the studio and having quick conversations on the fly, rather than having to schedule calls over teams. Being more efficient AND effective allows us to meet the needs of our clients while still delivering the high quality of work that BrandOpus has always produced.”

Jo Barnard, founder and creative director at industrial design consultancy Morrama, has also been feeling the strain. “The brief feeling of relief seeing the back of Covid at the beginning of the year was short-lived,” she recalls. “2022 has been another challenging year with cuts in creative spending as businesses look hesitantly towards an unpredictable 2023.

“This pressure can quickly translate into exhaustion and burn-out as we fight to keep the pipeline of work flowing and hit our own growth targets,” she continues. “So in 2023, we will instead be seeing creatives focus on growth in other ways: working on internal projects, deepening their education and building a culture of support and well-being both within their teams and their network.”

4. Retaining talent will be a real challenge

On that last point, studio heads must strike a careful balance: motivating creatives to do more and better without driving them away. Because as Abb-d Taiyo, co-founder of design and impact agency Driftime, says: “The great resignation is real! It has become increasingly harder to find great talent, let alone keep them fulfilled in the team and company dynamic.

“In the UK, a fifth of workers are expected to leave their roles according to a study by accountancy firm PwC,” he adds. “Although there are many reasons, two of the primary ones are purpose and balance. When we look to invest in our people, it’s going beyond the obvious of ‘increased pay’ and starting an open conversation with your team on what they want.”

For Driftime, this investment has been actioned in the form of complete autonomy, four-day work weeks, unlimited paid holidays, well-being perks, and incentives for each employee towards the cost of living crisis.

5. Employees will get more power

Is one way to retain talent giving it more power and influence within the agency? Rachel Cook, managing director at Thompson, believes so. “This year, tired of everyone agreeing with each other, we disbanded our non-executive board, binned off our leadership forum, and introduced an employee board,” she says. “The aim was to introduce a healthy challenge, diversify the voices in the room, and give the whole team a chance to decide how we do things. And it’s been a roller coaster, with learnings at every turn.

“2022 taught me if you ask for honesty, you’ll get it, and you need to be ready for that,” she continues. “The first meeting was about employee benefits, and the team turned up with a ten-page printed, stapled document of feedback, asking for loads more holiday, flexible working and heaps of other great ideas. I admit I wasn’t quite ready for it, but the feedback was great, and I’m so glad they took it seriously. We needed to hear it.”

Rachel has also learned that it pays to act fast. “We’ve stayed true to our promise to action something from every Employee Board within six weeks of the meeting; within a couple of weeks, we rolled out an extra three days of holiday per year. The positive repercussions weren’t just because of the free days off, but because it helped build the trust and confidence of the team that we weren’t just smiling and nodding, but actually acting.

“Finally, I’ve learned that the benefits of doing good stuff are bigger than you might imagine. The Employee Board told us that they thought the forum would be good for them to get insight into how business works, give them confidence, look good on their CV, and be a great recruitment message, too. And I love hearing the team telling potential recruits or clients about the employee board: they took a small idea I had in the shower and made it much more awesome.”

6. The creative profession will redefine itself

Typically, in a recession, big companies see design and other creative services as an easy cost to cut, to help balance their budgets. So Max Ottignon, co-founder of Ragged Edge, believes the industry must counter this by reframing itself. “We need to change the perception of creativity from a luxury to a necessity,” he argues.

“In 2022, we’ve all had to get pretty good at thriving in adversity,” he continues. “2023 doesn’t look like it’s going to offer much respite, so the onus is on us all to demonstrate that creativity can give businesses a vital edge when times are tough. It’s time to prove how valuable our skills are. That starts with asking the right questions in the first place. It means digging deep into the underlying business challenges and genuinely solving those issues in ways that feel tangible and devoid of marketing bullshit.”

Max believes this is in our power to do so, as long as we strike the right attitude. “This is a time for clarity, rigor and a healthy dose of pragmatism,” he says. “But it’s also a time when creativity can be the difference between success and failure. And if we can prove we’re irreplaceable when times are tight, just imagine the possibilities when things pick up.”

All that, of course, is easy to say, difficult to do. But Kirsty Minns, executive creative director at Mother Design, offers some advice on a personal level. “We entered 2022 with such uncertainty after the pandemic and have since navigated even more global challenges, from economic unrest to the climate crisis,” she explains. “And a lesson I used this year is to adopt a beginner’s mind.

“A client of mine was obsessed with this idea called shoshin, which originates from Japanese Zen Buddhism,” she explains. “It refers to the idea that the more you know about a subject, the more likely you are to close your mind to further learning. My interpretation of this was to challenge how things were done before, embrace unorthodox ideas and test new ways of working. New working models in the office were tested, new methods of coming up with ideas were embraced, and new ways of inspiring the team were implemented.”

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Quotes for the Soul and Wherever!

It’s that time of the month again! Time for assorted quotes from a variety of folks. Take them to heart and add them to your diet as food for your soul. Enjoy.

It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one. — Alex Osborne, Advertising Hall of Fame

The heart of creativity is discipline. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

Consumers are statistics. Customers are people. — Stanley Marcus, Advertising Hall of Fame

Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing. — Benjamin Franklin, Advertising Hall of Fame

Human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake. ― Rod Serling

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in art, in music, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.  – John Steinbeck

Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humor, which is awfully important in this day and age. Humor has a tremendous place in this sordid world. It’s more than just a matter of laughing. If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack. – Dr. Seuss

You can’t be a creative thinker if you’re not stimulating your mind, just as you can’t be an Olympic athlete if you don’t train regularly. – Sir Ken Robinson

Success or failure in business is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacities. — Walter Dill Scott, Advertising Hall of Fame

Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

The Power of Creative Excellence and the Loss of an Icon

Every once in awhile it’s nice to get another perspective on creativity and its influence in the advertising industry. So this week the creativity blog focuses on an interview with Rob Reilly, the creative lead of WPP. We also acknowledge the passing of an icon who truly embodied the power of creative excellence, Dan Wieden. Below are some excerpts from that interview conducted by Carly Weihe.

In sitting down with Reilly, his passion for creativity and the high quality standards he puts into his work is clear. Under his creative lead, WPP won the Most Creative Company of 2022 at Cannes. Animated and engaging, it’s no surprise he is the chief creative officer for the largest advertising company in the world. With a little over a year under his belt at the company, his outlook on the future is a positive one, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and brand consistency as key factors for continued success.

I have a photograph of the Fearless Girl in my room. I discovered that you had a hand in bringing it to life.

That’s one of the best things someone’s ever started an interview with. I think the accomplishment you can have is to create something that has an impact long after you leave this earth. When the stock brokers come out, they have to face her and remember to do the right thing the next day. The City of New York wanted to move her into a park because she was causing a lot of traffic. We were like, ‘no, we’ll move her to Tokyo or London instead because everybody wants her.’

So, we showed them the comp of the only place we would accept, State Street, and that’s where she is today. We don’t know what the return on investment is on that piece of work, because who knows if it inspired, some president or someone starting a company or finding a cure to a disease, because they were inspired to be a bit fearless.

You’ve been a part of other social justice campaigns such as #NYCSaysGay. How do you leverage real problems to inspire people?

Well,if you’ve seen anything that I’ve done or any presentations I’ve made, I really talk about creativity being today’s most valuable asset. So yes, the NYC Love was a campaign that we did against the Don’t Say Gay issue that they had in Florida. (The campaign was digital billboard advertisements strategically placed across Florida that emphasized NYC’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, in partnership with New York City’s mayor Eric Adams.)The idea is great. But the media placement is what makes it really great.

The creative headlines are fun and interesting and pretty punchy, but it’s a fact, that you’re able to buy the media in the States basically telling people to leave Florida, and the state of Florida couldn’t stop it. You need some real ingenuity and real creativity to do that. I have high hopes for creativity being taught to children in schools eventually. We’re teaching our kids a lot of things, and we should be teaching them to use their brain and creative ways to solve problems.

Too many people think, “Oh, I’m not creative.” But you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. You just have to use your brain in different and unique ways to solve things. I feel like more and more creativity is going to be used to get us out of sometimes the messes we create as a country and as a world.

How does hiring talent play into that mission?

I think younger people want to work for companies that are doing the right thing. Whether you choose to work at a company or whether it’s the couple of brands you choose to support, you’re watching what they do. But you also want to have a good career and make money and these two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

I think we’ve got to continue to attract unique and different types of individuals by doing the right things for them, and then the right things out in the world. I think where we’re struggling when we get into the diversity and inclusion aspect. I feel like we got to do a way better job of making sure all types of people with all types of opinions and voices and backgrounds are included and this is the business.

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Know Thyself and That Which Makes You Tick . . .

Quotes. Funny thing about quotes: They can be instrumental in getting over a point of view or conveying one’s opinion or setting oneself apart from others. In general, they’re supposed to be unique, jaw dropping and memorable. Here’s the latest batch out of my electronic grab bag of quotes by various folks from within the advertising community and beyond. Enjoy!

 

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. – Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

You have to know yourself … really know what makes you tick. — Shirley Polykoff, Advertising Hall of Fame

Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is. — Fairfax Cone, Advertising Hall of Fame

We don’t grow unless we take risks. Any successful company is riddled with failures. — James E. Burke, Advertising Hall of Fame

Success or failure in business is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacities. — Walter Dill Scott, Advertising Hall of Fame

All creative people want to do the unexpected. – Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance. – Bruce Barton, Advertising Hall of Fame

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field. – Niels Bohr

Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

Bill Bernbach

The place to start in advertising is the basic selling appeal. An appeal that fulfills some existing need in the prospect’s mind, an appeal that can be readily understood and believed. — Morris Hite, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Wonder What Mr. Data Would Think: Robots Creating Ads? Hmmmm.

Lt. Cmdr. Data of the USS Enterprise

Well, Data, as all Trekkers know, was an Android, not a robot. It was a very sensitive distinction in his day. Yet, one can’t help but wonder what one non-human form of life would think of another non-human form of life creating advertising in the manner humans do.

While humorous, I can just picture Klaatu instructing Gort about a forthcoming ad for NASA’s Artemis IV mission to Jupiter. (Note: Those of you not having a clue as to what I am referring, Google “Day the Earth Stood Still” especially the 1951 version)

Gort

Recently, I read where a reporter from the Wall Street Journal did an article on the role of AI (Artificial Intelligence) writing and redoing advertising. Interesting, I thought, so I made it the focus of this week’s blog post about another aspect of creativity in the early 21st. Century. My thanks to both The Journal and Patrick Coffee for lending credence to this post.

In late 2021, as states eased pandemic restrictions and consumers began flying again, travel search company Kayak needed a message that would help it stand out against bigger rivals.

Most travel ads focused on “the family reunion space, soft piano music, the get-together on the beach,” said Matthew Clarke, vice president of North American marketing for the Booking Holdings Inc. company. Kayak took a different approach with the “Kayak Deniers” campaign, which went live in January and poked fun at the rise of online conspiracy theories. In one ad, an angry mother insists to her family that Kayak isn’t real, screaming, “Open your eyes!”

Inspiration for the ads came from an unlikely source: artificial intelligence.

Kayak worked with New York advertising agency Supernatural Development LLC, whose internal AI platform combines marketers’ answers to questions about their business with consumer data drawn from social media and market research to suggest campaign strategies, then automatically generates ideas for advertising copy and other marketing materials.

Supernatural’s AI found that Kayak should target its campaign largely toward young, upper-income men, who it said would respond to humor about Americans’ inability to agree on basic facts in politics and pop culture, said Michael Barrett, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Supernatural.

“That gave us a good amount of license to zig where the category was zagging and to be more relevant, more provocative,” Mr. Clarke said of the AI findings.

The campaign has been one of Kayak’s most successful to date in driving brand favorability, Mr. Clarke said.

Marketers have primarily used AI in a creative capacity in services like creative automation, which tests thousands of slight variations on elements such as ad copy and color schemes to determine which combinations will best attract consumers’ attention.

But AI is expected to change marketing practices drastically in coming years thanks to new tools like OpenAI Inc.’s automated language generator GPT-3, which allows algorithms to better understand different languages and produce original text content, said Tom Davenport, distinguished professor of information technology and management at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., who co-wrote a 2019 paper on the subject.

Unilever PLC’s Dollar Shave Club recently began working with AI firm Addition Technologies Inc., whose platform can analyze millions of social-media posts, to help identify themes for use in marketing products that range from razors to wet wipes.

“It’s like having a machine hive mind that you can just keep asking questions because it has completely consumed all comments on the subject,” said Matt Orser, vice president and head of creative at Dollar Shave Club.

Addition also worked with ad agency Droga5 LLC to create an interactive ad campaign for the New York Times that turns headlines from each subscriber’s reading history into a visual “portrait” of that person. Some headlines were too long to fit within the portraits’ design, so Addition programmed its platform to rewrite them in fewer than 50 characters, said a Times spokesman.

AI’s primary benefit for marketers is its ability to quickly complete projects, such as brand strategy briefs, that would take humans days or weeks, giving staffers more time to focus on other work, said Supernatural Chief Creative Officer Paul Caiozzo.

When Signal Messenger LLC, maker of encrypted messaging app Signal, wanted to plan its first major marketing campaign in 2021, it turned to AI marketing consulting firm DumDum LLC.

DumDum invites marketers to discuss their most pressing challenges in brief “thinkathon” sessions, then runs those ideas through an AI platform that matches them with potential solutions based on a growing pool of behavioral data and consumer surveys conducted by DumDum to provide CMOs with outside perspectives.

DumDum presented Signal with several options, and executives chose one that focused on the fact that Signal, unlike many other digital platforms, doesn’t collect user data. They bought several Instagram ads designed to highlight how its parent, Meta Platforms Inc., targets users with their own personal data, said Jun Harada, head of growth and communication at Signal. One post began, “You got this ad because you’re a certified public accountant in an open relationship.”

Facebook responded by shutting down Signal’s ad account, according to Mr. Harada. The move came only days after Apple Inc. announced sweeping data-privacy changes that would upend the digital advertising industry.

When used correctly, AI forces marketers to consider new perspectives and avoid simply repeating approaches that worked in the past, said DumDum founder Nathan Phillips.

“You can create a dance between human and computer that changes the way you think,” Mr. Phillips said.

The idea of AI as a creative partner isn’t new, but most campaigns have positioned it as a gimmick.

In 2018, Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus released what it called “the world’s first advert to be scripted entirely by AI.” However, a Lexus spokeswoman described that effort as a “one-off,” and it still needed a human director.

Increased use of AI could potentially eliminate some entry-level marketing jobs, but it will never replace the people required to ensure that content is fit for public consumption and to prevent controversies such as Microsoft Corp.’s anti-Semitic chat bot, said Mr. Davenport, the Babson College professor.

Ad industry leaders agreed that AI will supplement, not supplant, human ingenuity. “While [AI] can unlock the creative capacity of people by making their work more efficient and effective, sometimes we need to throw logic out the window and fall back on our intuition,” said Rob Reilly, global chief creative officer at ad giant WPP PLC.

More creative firms will begin using AI tools in the coming years, but most will not position themselves as AI-driven businesses, because CMOs aren’t particularly concerned with the process as long as the resulting campaigns are successful, said Mr. Caiozzo of Supernatural.

“AI is just the tool that is freeing me to do my job,” he said. “Most people don’t care how you bake the bread.”

Like it or not, AI is here to stay and will only adjust and modernize the ad industry for years to come.

 

Notes:

Sources: The Wall Street Journal and Patrick Coffee. Appeared in the August 11, 2022, print edition as ‘Robots Turn Creative as AI Helps Drive Ad Campaigns.’

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

 

Quotes – It’s What They Said

It’s that time of the month again when we feature different quotes from a variety of people in the fields of creativity, the arts, psychology, advertising and many more. Some are very well known while others not so much. In any event, they are thought-provoking, interesting and in some cases, rather surprising.

 

Creators, makers of the new, can never become obsolete, for in the arts there is no correct answer. The story of discoverers could be told in simple chronological order, since the latest science replaces what went before. But the arts are another story — a story of infinite addition. We must find order in the random flexings of the imagination. – Daniel J. Boorstin

The writer’s role is to menace the public’s conscience. He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle of social criticism and he must focus the issues of his time. — Rod Serling

Rod Serling on set

Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas. — Donatella Versace

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail. — Edwin Land

If you can’t turn yourself into your customer, you probably shouldn’t be in the ad writing business at all.
Leo Burnett, Advertising Hall of Fame

Creativity is no longer about grabbing attention or raising consumer awareness. Its goal is to remind consumers about what is fundamental and gratifying about a brand. — Peter A. Georgescu, Advertising Hall of Fame

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. – Milton Berle

Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks. – Yo-Yo Ma

Meetings are all too often the burial grounds of great ideas. — Keith Reinhard, Advertising Hall of Fame

The more complex the world becomes, the more creative we need to be to meet its challenges. – Sir Ken Robinson (Mar 04, 1950 – Aug 21, 2020)

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Originality: Not required for creativity

Whether or not you agree with the premise, I found the following essay from Psychology Today an interesting take on a myth that still finds itself debatable in certain circles. Where do creative ideas come from? Are they truly original? Well, according to the essay . . .

One of the most persistent myths is that a creative idea is a totally original idea. That is, to be creative one must be able to create ideas that have never been thought before, ideas that never existed before, absolutely original. {Personally, I don’t buy this.}

{One could consider saying that all original ideas are creative but not all creative ideas are original. I would not necessarily agree with the first part of that statement but I would agree with the second part.}

The truth is that most innovative ideas are not original ideas. In most cases, they are simply the combination of previous ideas into a new concept or format. It’s about making connections with stuff that’s already there. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, brought this all into perspective when he said:

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they really didn’t do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or that they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

 

One of the most-oft cited cases of creativity centers around Johannes Gutenberg who, in 1450, combined the wine press and the coin punch to create movable type and the printing press. Movable metal pieces allowed pages to be printed much more quickly than the standard wooden blocks used to press ink onto paper.

His “combination of pre-existing technologies” created printing presses that could print thousands of pages a day. This revolution allowed books to be printed more quickly and more efficiently, allowing the middle class to obtain them as never before. The result was the rapid spread of knowledge across the European continent. That intellectual revolution came about due, in large measure, to the combination of two previous (and seemingly unconnected) ideas: a wine press and a coin punch.

Creative Combinations

Ancient Greeks were also aware of the power of creative combinations. For example, it was the Greeks who combined soft copper with soft tin to create hard bronze. At their most basic levels, Gutenberg’s printing press and the creation of bronze were simply a combination of already existing ideas. History also records these interesting combinations of pre-existing concepts:

1. Copier + telephone = fax machine

2. Bell + clock = alarm clock

3. Trolley + suitcase = suitcase with wheels.

4. Igloo + hotel = ice palace

5. Mathematics + biology = laws of heredity

We like to believe that creativity is the result of a determined, focused, and solo entrepreneur who, through a flash of inspiration solves a problem for the betterment of humankind. It’s a great plot line for a TV special, but it ignores a basic fact of life about the stories of most innovations: They rarely include the human networks that sustain (and make possible) radical new ideas or changes. In fact, history is frequently edited in order to recognize a sole genius or innovator. Phil McKinney, host of the nationally syndicated radio show, Killer Innovations, puts it this way:

We have a saying in the innovation industry: “There’s no such thing as a truly new idea. Ideas are the result of building on the work of others.” Many of the creative ideas that led to creating great companies were the result of a team. Some examples: Microsoft, Intel, Google, Skype and many more.

We continue to think that to be creative is to have the ability to create new ideas rather than to combine old ideas into new configurations. It’s a persistent myth that frequently blocks us whenever we’re faced with a personal challenge or work-related endeavor. To the contrary, however, creativity is not always a series of “brilliant new ideas,” but often is the result of a lifetime of experiences and diligence in working on combinations of those ideas (instead of giving up on them after one or two failures). The myth that every idea must be an idea never considered before (in the history of humankind) is a significant impediment to our ability to think creatively.

Key Takeaways

  • We often make the mistake of assuming that creative ideas are always original ideas.
  • Creativity is, quite often, a combination of two “old” ideas.
  • One’s creativity can be enhanced by linking two or more disparate concepts.

Regardless of one’s viewpoint, never be afraid to brainstorm with your own imagination and consider borrowing from other ideas. Those ideas can always be improved upon and/or give birth to a totally new and different idea. That’s being creative.

 

Thanks to Dr. Fredericks for the essay and for the various examples of original thought on which this post is based. Anthony D. Fredericks, Ed.D., is Professor Emeritus of Education at York College of Pennsylvania and the author of From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Cannes Lions 2022: The State of Creativity

Every summer the advertising world treks to France and pays tribute to its version of Mecca, the Cannes Creativity Festival. In the words of a UK publication who was onsite last week, “Cannes Lions is a circus, a meeting of minds, a place to hear the same buzzwords again and again and a chance to listen to celebrities try to explain how to do advertising to rooms full of people who do advertising for a living.

But it’s also a chance to take the temperature of creativity once a year. Seeing all the work that’s winning and being surrounded by people talking about creativity gives people a unique bird’s eye perspective for just one week.”

So, while talking to the cross section of creative leaders, a very broad, but pertinent question was asked: “what is the state of creativity in 2022?”

Here’s what some of them said.

Caitlyn Ryan
VP, Meta

There’s much more optimism and real celebration. We were seeing lots more joyful work. There was one piece that won Gold [in Social & Influencer], for BMW China for the Lunar New Year. The team worked out that the word for BMW in China includes the word horse, and it was the year of the Tiger. It’s properly bonkers but it’s also so joyful. I think it’s a really great example of a couple of things, this celebration and joyfulness, but also as a social campaign. They created all of these assets that then they gave over to the community that allowed them to socialise the idea. I think it’s quite complex but it looks simple and fun.

Yes, there of course is social purpose work – and there was amazing work, especially the charity work The Lost Class, which was just beautiful. That definitely triggers a reaction and wanting to sign up to a social purpose activation. Also we can sell products through joyfully co-creating with the community. I think that’s a really important next step out of the pandemic. It’s incredibly important that we get the economy up and running again, and we use creativity to do that.

Bruno Bertelli
Global Creative Director, Publicis WW and CEO, Le Pub

On one level, there’s a little bit of dated work. Still purpose-led, still a little bit from the past. But on the other hand, there is a trend which is interesting, which is that today brands cannot tell people [things] or inspire people, it’s much more about supporting people doing things. Even if it’s for a small issue, it’s much more about supporting people in what they want to achieve. Story-doing has become much more societally relevant and less strategic – what’s your purpose, what’s your message? Some of these activations don’t even need a message because it’s clear that ‘here’s an issue and I’m just here to help’. It’s a very gen-z attitude. The other thing is not all brands are understanding the importance of being topical today. It’s so important after covid. If you’re not topical, you’re not going anywhere. 

Anna Qvennerstedt
Senior Partner and Chairman of the Board, Forsman & Bodenfors

Last year I was judging brand experience and activation. And I think that my big takeaway from last year was that there are so many really ‘nice’ ideas, but you can feel how quite a few of them are just… very reasonable. You look at it and it’s well done… but there’s no tension in it. There’s no element of surprise. It’s just basically very, very clever. And I think in the jury, when you look at it, you know that it’s going to do well, but then you see something where there’s an actual idea that is expected and no one saw coming, and that sort of changes you a little bit. Those are the ones that win the big awards, I think, and there are not many of them. I mean, again, lots of great work, but those really unexpected ones felt quite rare.

But I think there’s a renaissance for really creative ideas, that we’re sort of starting to see a little bit in the requests from clients.

Rod Sobral
Global CCO, Oliver 

I am a paranoid optimistic. I know it’s a cliche, but I use it all the time. I think every leader should be a bit of a paranoid optimistic. You have to believe that things are going to change, that it’s going to evolve in order for you to be in the right state of mind, and to take some risks. 

My view on that is absolutely, still the most important thing in the marketplace – and I don’t think this will ever change – is the idea. And an idea that connects with you on an emotional or a rational level, sometimes both. 

I think we do have this superpower in our industry to change people’s lives. It can be an ad that’ll put a smile on your face or remind you to call your mom or it can be an app that will help you to deal with your asthma or to run better. So I know that this is possible. And I think we should be doing that. 

I believe, when it comes to the state of creativity, we are in a very exciting place, frankly, because I feel that there’s a lot of energy to try things. Let’s be honest, with digital, with commerce, we have so many platforms, we produce so much. Any creative can relate to the many times you create something and you end up with one asset that people see for a fraction of a second. There is a lot of vision from people saying, ‘I don’t want to be part of the clutter, I want to be part of the signal’. The more clutter there is, the more anxious people get to change, to try to do something to break the mould.

John Berghdal
Global Creative Lead, Forsman & Bodenfors

There was so much fear in the last few years and everybody was thinking about just controlling things, not wanting things to get out of hand. And of course, then you lean on data, and you’re like, ‘OK, Facebook, Google, what can you give me? This is my budget and let’s just use programmatic. Let’s just steer this thing to not have a catastrophe, we’re going to control the situation’. Through creativity and unexpectedness, you have to be bold. You have to risk something – and I don’t think people have been in a risky kind of mood… [We were talking earlier] about the pendulum and maybe this is when people are waking up and coming out and saying, ‘OK, wait a minute, let’s build brands that people care about.’

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Live long and prosper, Ukraine.

Quotes – Special Edition

Forty-seven years ago this week, June 28, 1975, creativity lost an icon. A mentor to many both near and afar and an inspiration to those of us putting “pen to paper.” Rod Serling, creator and host of the TV series, The Twilight Zone, was a master at utilizing one’s imagination and turning it on its ear. And we loved him for it!

These quotes pay tribute not only to Rod but to various creative artists and thought leaders who have also played a role in tweaking our imagination and how we think.

I just want [people] to remember me a hundred years from now. I don’t care that they’re not able to quote any single line that I’ve written. But just that they can say, ‘Oh, he was a writer.’ That’s sufficiently an honored position for me.Rod Serling

An important idea not communicated persuasively is like having no idea at all. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

Human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake. ― Rod Serling

Like the musical score, a mission statement is only as good as the performance it inspires. — Keith Reinhard, Advertising Hall of Fame

Let’s gear our advertising to sell goods, but let’s recognize also that advertising has a broad social responsibility. — Leo Burnett, Advertising Hall of Fame

Treasure diversity. Seek unity, not uniformity. Strive for oneness, not sameness. — Dan Zadra, American businessman and author

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. – H. G. Wells

Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions, it rarely moves anyone. — Fairfax M. Cone, Advertising Hall of Fame

In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd. – Miguel de Cervantes

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity. – Eleanor Roosevelt
 
Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor. – Truman Capote

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Live long and prosper, Ukraine.