Our Creative Economy: Listen up, Houston!

This past Monday, April 11, I had the pleasure of attending a day-long discussion “Valuing the Creative Economy” at the third Leadership in the Arts Summit held at the Center for Arts Leadership at the University of Houston. Quite a stunning facility!

I learned about this summit from my friend and Only in Houston Co-chair Alfred Cervantes, who besides being the deputy director of the Houston Film Commission was also a panelist addressing the question “Creative Economy: What is it and why does it matter”?

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Because of the length of the Summit and the depth of discussion that took place and will continue in the weeks and months to come, there will be subsequent posts about our progress and how all this can tie together here in Houston. There will also be photos and presentations from the Summit posted to the Center’s website in the days ahead.

The goal of the Summit, according to Sixto Wagan, Director, Center for Arts Leadership, is “to bring our creative community together to talk and to envision a collective future. The panels are meant to push beyond the simple binaries, help us question assumptions, and move the conversation forward toward action.”

Christine Harris lead the opening plenary (formal seminar-speak) “Creative Economy: What is it and why does it matter”? Christine has been working with creative enterprises and community development for over 30 years and was recently in Houston last November headlining a similarly-themed morning workshop at the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and an evening panel discussion at Gensler.

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Harris co-founded the Creative Economy Coalition, a working committee of the National Creativity Network, and designed and executed the nation’s first review of defining the creative economy. This study profiled and inventoried how 27 communities around the nation were profiling and measuring their creative economies. She was CEO of Creative Alliance Milwaukee, where she managed a full profile of the regional creative economy and developed online resources for the sector.

It’s not my intent to cover all that was discussed during the Summit in one blog post. We’d be reading for days! I merely want to further the conversation that was “started” last November and continued this past Monday.

And Houston, we’ve got work to do.

Just consider these questions:

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And then, there’s the $64,000 question:

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Obviously, these questions don’t have simple, ready-made answers. They do, however, demand discussion and we need to continue this.

Feel free to comment and send me input on possible answers or solutions to these questions. You can also post your ideas on OiH-FaceBook and/or the Arts Leadership-FaceBook.

The various communication organizations in and around the city are a major resource for input and counsel. So, too, are the fine educational and non-profit venues in our area. Although this Summit centered around the arts, creativity knows no boundaries.

Through the American Advertising Federation Houston (AAFH), Only in Houston (OiH) was born a decade ago. Its intent was, and still is, to keep local creative dollars spent locally. There was even a multi-communication organization formed years ago (Houston Communication Alliance) aimed at bringing together all “creatives.”

Times change as do people and industries. Houston’s Creative Economy and its driving forces need to meet today’s challenges with tomorrow in mind. We may need to rethink how this is done. Other communities around the country are doing so, and it will take just that: A Houston-wide effort. No one organization or person can do this.

At the risk of thinking out loud (even though I’m typing this in silence), maybe Only in Houston morphs into a “Houston Creative Coalition,” which is comprised of organizations like the Houston Arts Alliance, Greater Houston Partnership, numerous professional and arts organizations, etc.? We can learn a lot from others who have started something like this. But Houston needs to create something that works in Houston, not Boston.

And we must do a helluva lot better job of communicating with one another so that we all know what’s going on and when. No problem; piece o’ cake!

The Leadership in Arts Summit 2016 is a recent example of creativity and economics blending and working together for the common good. We need to make sure the conversation continues and progresses.

More to come . . .

Onward!

 

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Advertising Hall of Fame Quotes – Part 5

Happy Mardi Gras!!

Here’s the fifth in a five-part series (more to come later) of various worth-remembering quotes which I believe you’ll find interesting and hopefully inspiring. Excerpted from the newsletter “Smart Brief” from the American Advertising Federation, these quotes are usually from a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Quote

41. I don’t like closed doors. Creativity flourishes best in an environment of open doors and open minds.

— Keith Reinhard

42. There is no such thing as ‘soft sell’ and ‘hard sell.’ There is only ‘smart sell’ and ‘stupid sell.’ 

— Charles H. Brower

43. In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.

— David Ogilvy

44. Grant graciously what you dare not refuse.

— George Gallup

45. Advertising makes people discontented. It makes them want things they don’t have. Without discontent, there is no progress, no achievement.

— Morris Hite

46. The artist defines creativity. The audience defines effectiveness. To be creative, study art. To be effective, study the audience. To be both, study how the audience responds to art.

— Keith Reinhard

47. I avoid clients for whom advertising is only a marginal factor in their marketing mix. They have an awkward tendency to raid their advertising appropriations whenever they need cash for other purposes.

— David Ogilvy

48. Creativity often consists of merely turning up what is already there.

— Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

49. We don’t grow unless we take risks. Any successful company is riddled with failures.

— James E. Burke

50. There’s nothing wrong with being fired.

— Ted Turner

So, which one or ones is/are your favorite(s)?

Do you have a favorite or favorites in the series?

Lemme know.

Advertising Hall of Fame Quotes – Part 4

Here’s the fourth in a (for now) five-part series of various worth-remembering quotes which I believe you’ll find interesting and hopefully inspiring. Excerpted from the newsletter “Smart Brief” from the American Advertising Federation, these quotes are usually from a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Quote

31. Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.

— Stanley Marcus

32. It takes a real storm in the average person’s life to make him realize how much worrying he has done over the squalls.

— Bruce Barton

33. Big ideas are so hard to recognize, so fragile, so easy to kill. Don’t forget that, all of you who don’t have them.

— John Elliott Jr.

34. I have learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one.

— Leo Burnett

35. Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions, it rarely moves anyone.

— Fairfax M. Cone

36. The creative process is often a matter of changing ‘What is’ to ‘What if?’ We first observe the status quo and then imagine a status novus.

— Keith Reinhard

37. No company that markets products or services to the consumer can remain a leader in its field without a deep-seated commitment to advertising.

— Edwin Artzt

38. Remove advertising, disable a person or firm from proclaiming its wares and their merits, and the whole of society and of the economy is transformed. The enemies of advertising are the enemies of freedom.

— David Ogilvy

39. We pay just as dearly for our triumphs as we do for our defeats. Go ahead and fail. But fail with wit, fail with grace, fail with style. A mediocre failure is as insufferable as a mediocre success.

— Bruce Barton

40. Know what the client wants, know what the client needs, and know how to cause the client to want what the client needs.

— Keith Reinhard

 So, which one or ones is/are your favorite(s)? Lemme know.

Advertising Hall of Fame Quotes – Part 2

Here’s another in a multi-part series of various worth-remembering quotes which I believe you’ll find interesting and hopefully inspiring. Excerpted from the newsletter “Smart Brief” from the American Advertising Federation, these quotes are usually from a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Get ready to chuckle, and, I hope, remember.

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11. Know what the client wants, know what the client needs, and know how to cause the client to want what the client needs.

— Keith Reinhard

12. The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.

— Charles Brower

13. The three ingredients of effective advertising are relevance, originality and impact, the initials of which spell out what clients most desire: ROI.

— Keith Reinhard

14. Anyone who thinks that people can be fooled or pushed around has an inaccurate and pretty low estimate of people — and he won’t do very well in advertising.

— Leo Burnett

15. Creativity varies inversely with the number of cooks involved in the broth.

— Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

16. When you are through changing, you are through.

— Bruce Barton

17. There are two kinds of men who don’t amount to much: those who can’t do what they are told and those who can do nothing else.

— Cyrus H. K. Curtis

18. You must make the product interesting, not just make the ad different. And that’s what too many of the copywriters in the U.S. today don’t yet understand.

— Rosser Reeves

19. Advertising is the ability to sense, interpret … to put the very heart throbs of a business into type, paper and ink.

— Leo Burnett

20. An important idea not communicated persuasively is like having no idea at all.

— William Bernbach

So, which one or ones is/are your favorite(s)? Lemme know.

GE’s attempt to “creaturefy” scary ideas – not bad!

Ideas can scare the hell out of people. They can denote change if they’re adopted.

Too many times we’re not even given the time to explore generating new ideas. Yet, we seem to be constantly trying to evolve and innovate. Hmmmm, last time I checked, one needed ideas to do that. At least one.

This is the third in a series of four related blog posts I referenced in my recent presentation to the AAF Rio Grande Valley. It pertains to ideas and how people react to them. It’s not always receptive especially since ideas are not always welcome.

Hats of to GE for this innovative commercial about ideas and their surprising effects on people. It’s actually been airing since 2014 but I just noticed it a few months ago, and again recently. Good for them to continue the campaign.

The first time I saw it, I really wasn’t sure what I was watching. The more I watched, the more intrigued I got. It still “gets” me in an unnerving kind of way. Several times I just wanted to go “yuck” to myself, but then felt guilty about wanting to do so.

For those who haven’t seen it or who might have missed it, here’s what a scary idea could look like. Next time you come across one, you might give it a bit more respect than one normally would.

 

Creativity as a Problem Solver

During my recent presentation on creativity and creative thinking to the AAF Rio Grande Valley, I referenced using creativity to help solve problems. No matter how cutesy an ad looks or what kind of special effects one uses, if a problem does not get closer to being solved, the process is not doing any good.

The following video is one I suggested that interestingly addresses how creativity helps solve problems. It’s an excerpt from this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, where a group of people who work in media, design, and the arts were asked about how the creative process can lend itself to unlocking solutions.

 

Why Would Burger King Sell Red Burgers in Japan?

Sell red what? That’s what I thought when I first saw the headline, “The Inside Story on Why Burger King Sells Red Burgers in Japan.”

I didn’t think someone would make this up, especially since Advertising Age was reporting the story. Well, I became intrigued and felt like this may make for an interesting blog post on a site like this, exploring all forms of creativity and innovation.

Even in a land of relentlessly wacky fast food innovations, Burger King Japan has nabbed a lot of attention with its all-black burgers.

BK's Black Burger

Burger King Japan’s black burger.

Yeah, you heard right. The sight of pitch-black buns and cheese, evidently, really gets to people.

Pass the Pepto, please!

But wait, that’s nothing.

Burger King Japan recently launched an all-red burger, with red-colored cheese, buns and, obviously, hot sauce. A Google search turned up more than 150 headlines in English alone on the new creation.

What Better Way to Get Brand Attention on a Tight Budget?

The Aka Samurai from Burger King Japan. Also comes with chicken.

BK's Red Burger

As some of you may be gasping about now at the sight of the Red Burger (personally, I prefer the sight of the Red version over the Black), the question arising in my mind was “why?”

Obviously, the folks at Ad Age were curious, too. So, Burger King Japan’s general manager for business management, Masanori Tatsuiwa, who worked previously at agencies including Ogilvy & Mather Japan, answered a few questions about the red Aka Samurai Burger (buns and cheese tinted with tomato powder), the black Kuro Burger (which used bamboo charcoal and squid ink), as well as the brand’s “flame-grilled” personal fragrance.

Here are excerpts from that interview . . .

Ad Age: Where do these ideas come from, and what’s your process?

Mr. Tatsuiwa: We sit down with marketing and R&D look for something unusual. When we start to think about something, we have taste tests inside the restaurant. We have 93 restaurants in Japan.

At the moment we don’t have much ad budget in our hands, so we do almost everything by ourselves. We are not using any creative agencies for these products. This way we don’t need any big money to expand our awareness in the market.

Burger King is not big compared to the competitor companies in Japan. McDonald’s has about 3,000 restaurants in Japan. The local MOS Burger chain has almost 1,400 restaurants. (Editor’s note: Burger King re-entered Japan in 2007, after a first attempt had failed after eight years in 2001 amid tough fast food competition.)

Ad Age: How big is your marketing team?

Mr. Tatsuiwa: Five people. Including R&D.

Ad Age: So, why red this time?

Mr. Tatsuiwa: This is the fourth year we’ve had a black burger, and we wanted to have something new happen this year. And we were also thinking about the Burger King “Angry Whopper,” (a jalapeno-laden rendition of the classic), that launched in some markets, but with the color the same as usual. Brown. We thought making it red would make people curious and express the hot taste.

Ad Age: Are other markets picking up on these ideas?

Mr. Tatsuiwa: Burger King Singapore has a black burger and a white burger this year. Burger King Malaysia has a black burger called the Ninja.

Ad Age: On April 1 you had a one-day-only sale of something called “Flame-Grilled Fragrance.” (The 1,000-piece limited edition flasks sold for $41 and came with a Whopper. They sold out.) Why a perfume?

Mr. Tatsuiwa: The idea came from Burger King in the U.S., they had a perfume several years ago. We thought we could use that on “Whopper Day” in Japan.

We were thinking if we announced a launch for this kind of perfume for April 1 (yes, April Fool’s Day), some people might think it wasn’t true (and that would generate more conversations about it). But we seriously produced this product, and that was very effective. We collaborated with a local perfume company and asked them to produce a flame-grilled smell. It was a very unique order for them. They worked very hard on it. (I’m not making this up, gang. Sounds like the perfect White Elephant gift.)

Ad Age: How were sales?

Mr. Tatsuiwa: It was a record for one-day sales on a weekday.

Now, honestly, even as promotion-crazy as we tend to be in the US of A, I wonder if either one of these would fly. What do you think, marketers and creative folks? Would any of you client companies have the guts to try something like this or to let your agencies develop this kind of special promotion?

I doubt it.

Hell, if it tastes good, why not. Just put on a blindfold while eating one (especially the black version).