Creativity in the Corporate Ivory Tower? Sheesh, surely you jest?!

This is not a whodunit, nor is it a Perry Mason murder mystery about the Case of the Kangaroo Court. What it is, however, is the Business Case for Creativity.

An excerpt from a review of the book itself reveals, “Debate in the advertising and marketing industries has raged for decades: does creativity make advertising more effective? Or is it just the folly of creative people looking to win their next award?

“The arguments of both advocates and cynics have until recently been based on conjecture and anecdotal evidence. James Hurman’s seminal creative effectiveness book The Case for Creativity brings the debate to a conclusion with three decades of international research into the link between creativity and business results.”

Tom Roach, BBH’s (Bartle-Bogle-Hegarty) effectiveness head, was asked by Thinkbox to present the business case for creativity at their spring event. Inspired by Thinkbox’s own  innovative slide desk, the presentation he gave brought together the best evidence for the value of creativity in marketing communications. Here are excerpts from that presentation along with my own take on the case for creativity.

Case for creaivity

Simply stated, without creativity one has nothing. The beautifully executed creative plan of an advertising campaign can not be overshadowed by something comprised of “just the facts.” The campaign must have charisma, its own personality, to be believable. However, being believable doesn’t necessarily mean playing it safe or conservative.

Take this attitude from Keith Wood of Unilever in his Forward of the book:

Forward-Case for Creativity

That may be the case but the industry still has a ways to go and many more folks need to know. While this may be true, can we say there is a crisis in creativity? If so, how so and what is it?

First, let’s take a step or two back and ask: “What do we mean by creative?”

Well, there’s this . . .

Novel . . .

And this . . .

Good ideas . . .

And this somewhat in-your-face guideline . . .

Make it different . . .

Okay, all good and fruitful definitions and clarifications of what creativity is or entails. As with several key issues in the business world, creativity is complicated, especially when the problem is multifaceted and everyone on the marketing committee has a different viewpoint.

But, is there a crisis in creativity? Well, let’s see.

Trends Wrkg Against

Campaign effectiveness has fallen (UL), Budgets have been falling (UR), Short-termination has been rising (LL), Long-term cases have lost efficiency (LR)

Ad Blocking

Hmmmmm, looking kinda murky, isn’t it? Let’s consider this :

Rising Sea

 

Smart Phones

Autos

Ah, yes, nothing like differentiation in car ads!

 

Case for creaivity

 

Creative Companies

S&P 500

Disruption

Creative Execution

Emotional

Ad Slogans

While the above slides are true, I vote for more thoughtfulness and less cutesyness. In some advertising, the ad could have the audio muted (saying what the ad is about) with just the video or image shown, and most folks wouldn’t be able to tell what product is being promoted. Let’s face it, cars and cologne can be interchangeable. And, I guess, trucks are destined to be driven only in the “out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere” scenarios.

Creativity Brings

I’d like to add at least one more: Intangibles. Sometimes you just don’t know what makes a good ad good. It just works.

 

Our Objective

I definitely agree with this last poster. Effectiveness is key to creative execution. Smart creativity is a must. Play to one’s audience still applies but do so without insulting their intelligence. I’ll go out on a limb and say that, generally speaking, a twenty-something copywriter has little to no understanding of how best to relate to the “senior plus” set, unless he can relate to his grandparents.

Case for Creativity Book

If you want to view a more in-depth portrayal of this presentation, see the Business Case for Creativity. It’s not your ordinary slide deck. Neither is the book on which the presentation is based.

Fun, Frivolous, Famous, and Fearless Quotes . . . Food for your Soul!!

red-quotation-marks-vector-online-royalty-free-picture-435958Here we are again, searching through the online Quote Bag. Some of the gems I found are listed below.

Your respite into the world of famous and sometimes infamous quotes from a variety of personalities. Any one of these could prove motivation for that ad you’re working on, tweak your imagination, inspire you or just plain bring a smile to your face.

 

Charles Kettering Quote

I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.” – Henry Ford

My stories run up and bite me on the leg. I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite.” — Ray Bradbury, the author of Twilight Zone’s 100th episode!

Ray Bradbury Title Card

From someone on Twitter:
It was the great Ray Bradbury, whom I interviewed as a young reporter and aspiring novelist going in five different directions at once and totally befuddled.  His simple advice to me:  “Write what you love to read.”

Rod Serling Quote

 

Mark Twain Quote

 

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”   – Albert Einstein

There have been three writers that most suit me: Rod Serling, Clifford Odets and Neil Simon. With Neil it was the humor and the rhythms. Odets, the staccato. But with Rod Serling, it was the anger, the defiance and fire. He brought such fire to everything he wrote.” — Jack Klugman

No knowledge of what went before. No understanding of what is now. No knowledge of what will be.  #ZoneQuotes #S3E14  “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” by Rod Serling

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” – Erich Frommred-quotation-marks-vector-online-royalty-free-picture-435958

 

 

 

 

Which ones ring true for you? Inspire you? Make you want to scratch your head and say “Huh?” Let me know in the comments.

Colorfully Weird, “Speeding” Image Wins Hyundai Cannes Lion. Should it Have?

Winning an award in the advertising business is a big deal. The really big deals come annually during the sun-baked, beach-worshipping, booze-enhanced party in France known famously as the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. This year was no exception.

Except. One campaign that did win a Lion was done by MullenLowe/SSP3 for Hyundai called Speeding Emojis. As their brief explained, “Every day, more people are involved in car accidents for texting and driving. To make drivers aware of this issue, we decided to use one of the most common elements, when it comes to writing: emojis. But we wanted to use them in a different way. So, we decided to show how they would look at 69, 85, 43 and 76 km/h to prove that texting and driving at the same time just doesn’t make sense.”

Color Swirl Hyundai Ad

Colorful representation of an emoji used while texting when traveling at various high speeds. Note the vertical line of copy at left basically saying “don’t text at xy speed and drive.”

The explanation given in the brief by the agency obviously doesn’t appear in the ad, nor should it. Given this, how is one to know what the image is? While the single line of copy is pretty self-explanatory, the big-ass image of a color swirl is not.

The campaign also uses several different emoji varieties with accompanying swirls of different colors, tying in with that emoji.

Color Swirl Hyundai-green

Another in series of colorful swirls in Hyundai’s Don’t (emoji) and Drive campaign

Given that the image dominates the ad and the tag line is sort of lost, it sort of begs the question: What the Hell does the image represent and/or why isn’t that explained in some fashion? Given an art director’s or designer’s perspective, one might wonder, “How’d they do that?” or “What is that supposed to be?”

Well, this is where it gets even more interesting. According to a post on Twitter, a very “similar looking” image is available from Shutterstock. Now, it’s not unusual to use stock imagery in spec work or presentations but unless an agency is in partnership with a stock footage and imagery company like Shutterstock, this is highly unusual and probably not even kosher. There’s not even a credit given to Shutterstock in the ad nor to the designer who created the original artwork, Rik Oostenbroek.

Color Swirl Hyundai-large

Color swirl image via Shutterstock compared to image used in Hyundai ad campaign.

I’m surprised that, to my knowledge thus far, neither Shutterstock nor Rik Oostenbroek have contacted the agency or Hyundai about about this; of course, this assumes that approval was given beforehand. Even if it was, where’s the credit?

In reporting on the story, Adweek requested a response from MullenLowe who sent the following:

“In regards to this particular campaign, the images were identified as the most fitting way to illustrate the important ‘don’t text and drive’ message for our client. The appropriate rights for the four images were purchased through the correct channels and we acted legally within the terms of the licence. We have been in contact with the artist claiming credit for the work on social media, with a full explanation of the creative process and the surrounding legalities.

“D&AD investigated the entry and deemed it eligible on the evidence provided.”

But . . . where’s the originality? Some folks may not have a problem with using stock imagery in ads while I’m sure some do. Are we seeing some sort of trend in advertising? What’s the proper use of stock photography and when and where should it be used?

“If you literally copy and paste something and stick a line of copy on it, I don’t think it’s worthy of an award,” said Chris Garbutt, global CCO of TBWA\Worldwide and a frequent awards juror. “I don’t think it’s enough to do that anymore.”

I believe this ad and its campaign has a few issues. Feel free to write in the comments section of this blog and let me know your thoughts.

Personally, these images remind me of something caught in a time warp, but absolutely nothing concerning automobiles. The concept of “don’t text and drive” could apply to any cell phone provider’s message, for that matter.

The images do illicit one’s attention. However, their reaction may produce a “WTF?”

Go figure.

 

Lady of the Living Room

A short, “short” (story).  This “short” came to me in a dream sequence recently. It was so vivid yet I could never identify the Lady, but I sort of recalled the Living Room.

 

I found her standing in the middle of the living room. But whose? This is not my house but for some reason it’s familiar. How did I get here? Who is this woman?

Attractive, stylish, middle-aged woman, dressed like 60’s women, complete with non-bufont hairdo. She’s in a silver-white business suit with dress buttons down front leading to a big belt buckle.

Martha Stewart Silhoutte

Silhouette by marthastewart.com

She’s actually from the sixties. Aside from her appearance, I seem to know that for some reason.

She never says her name.

Gazing intently into my eyes, she seems to know what I’m thinking and wondering.

She then proceeds to undress.

She gradually strips off her clothing, asking for some assistance from me. During so, she openly talks about having black underwear but not like the conservative styles of sixties’ fashion for “women her age.”

She embraces me and coyly purrs that she’s ten years older – – how does she know?

The Lady stands there before me, completely nude except for shiny black dress high heels. She appears to be completely comfortable and says she’s always been very open and passionate about sex, and with men of all ages.

We embrace and have a passionate kiss. Only then do I break away to get a drink when I discover the surroundings have changed.

We’re still in a house but not “that” house. Don’t know what’s happened but now I seem to be back in the sixties.

What power has she? Can I get back to my reality? Have I changed? Why has she done this?

“You told me I looked like a lady from the sixties,” she declares. “Well, you’re right; I am a lady from the sixties. And now you’re back in the sixties, too, dah-ling,” she purrs rather matter-of-factly.

“Where you’ll stay!” she blurts out flatly.

Martha Stewart Silhoutte 2

Silhouette by marthastewart.com

She starts laughing slowly; first a chuckle, then intensifying into full blown, hysterical laughter, all the while having a slight but wicked twinkle in her eye.

Then in a flash, she’s gone. Poof!

Startled, I begin to look around when I notice the windows and how pretty a day it is outside. Maybe my reality still exists beyond that window. As I near the window, however, I’m shocked to see that it’s just a painting. That’s not all; as I look around the room, I notice that ALL the windows are paintings.

What’s going on?

I move toward another window/painting, but as I pass in front of what I know is a mirror, I stop dead in my tracks. The reflection is of myself; yet, it can’t be.

Then I hear, faintly but distinctly, her hysterical laughter once again.

It appears I have now become the Lady of the Living Room.

 

©Copyright Joe Fournet/Ideas&MORE 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Discover Your Creative Type With This TED.Com Creative Quiz.

I think you’ll find this little quiz curiously interesting. Though I don’t recall how I came about it, I’m glad I did.

Creativity comes in a variety of forms as does “being creative.” But it’s not like we have a switch that we can simply flick on and off to control our creative flow. Although, at times, I wish it were that easy.

According to writer and professor Meta Wagner, “by discovering what drives you and your art, you can tap into your deepest motivations and achieve your full creative potential”.

Do any of these sound familiar?

— You believe you have a great creative talent, but you think your dreams of pursuing it full-time are childish and impractical.

— You spent months on a creative project. Then, you couldn’t decide if it was brilliant or worthless so you. just. stopped.

— You’ve sold a drawing/song/podcast/story/web series, and you’ve got more under way. But even though you’re succeeding, you find yourself waking up at night, worrying about competitors.

If you can relate to one or more of these scenarios, welcome to the creative life. Any artist you’ve ever heard of has had something besides talent, dedication or luck behind them: Most of them knew why they created. When you know what drives you — and what encourages and discourages you — you’re better able to keep yourself on track and enlist friends and colleagues to rally you during dry times or tough times.

The five creative types here grew out of the extensive research and thinking Ms. Wagner has done for the “Creativity in Context” seminar she teaches at Emerson College. Her students have responded enthusiastically, and she realized she’d tapped into something valuable for anyone creative.

Click the “start” button, take the quiz,* discover your type, and embrace a life fueled by your imagination and art. Let me know what Creative Type you are!

Meta Wagner writes about pop culture and creativity, and she’s been published in The Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Salon and other outlets. Wagner teaches creative and communications writing at Emerson College and Boston University, where she was a 2017 TEDx speaker.

*BTW, when I took it, the results say I am a “game changer”. . .

“You’re looking to produce something new and different with your creativity. You don’t understand people who churn out variations of the same thing or who imitate other artists. Nothing pleases you more than smashing conventions, and the highest praise you can get is when someone says, “I’ve never seen or heard anything like this before.”
Just remember:You’re going to encounter a fair amount of criticism and rejection, so try not to let it derail you or make you too dejected. When you receive constructive criticism, see if it resonates with you and make changes as you see fit. But keep in mind that what you’re doing may make people uncomfortable or threaten anyone who is conventional or risk-averse. So, when you receive a rejection letter or email, do one of the following with it: burn it, frame it, delete it, spear it or save it so you can later send a note back to the rejecter saying ‘I told you so.’ Just don’t give up.”

TED

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

Dreams . . . Cancer . . . Nightmares . . . Sleeplessness . . . What of Insomnia?

Note: This week begins a celebration of World Creativity and Innovation Week, April 15-21. I thought it appropriate to highlight some intriguing, insightful and, hopefully, entertaining bits and pieces of creativity and innovation from around our globe.

My initial offering deals with Insomnia and how, for some people, it can be truly nightmarish. This post includes information and images from both a presentation on insomnia and select photos by a photographer who has severely suffered from insomnia.

In this excerpt from an issue of Adobe Create Magazine, the photog takes us into his bizarre world of striking, nightmarish illusions.

And his fight with insomnia.

Photographer Nicolas Bruno has suffered from sleep paralysis since he was seven years old. In Bruno’s case, when he enters REM sleep, his mind becomes conscious, or awake, but his body remains asleep. During these recurring episodes, he experiences shortness of breath or pressure on his chest and the feeling that he’s being choked or is going to be killed. Screaming shadow figures menace him in bed. He’s unable to move, and the state seems to last hours. Sometimes it stops because he awakens; other times he moves into another dream. All of it is out of his control.

And you thought you had nightmares!

BrunoSleepless-3

When Bruno was fifteen, he began experiencing sleep paralysis almost every night. To help process the resulting stress, he kept a dream journal and then turned to drawing and photography. At first, he photographed mostly landscapes and abandoned places. Over time, he started making work directly inspired by what he goes through during sleep paralysis.

“Transforming my experiences with sleep paralysis into artwork not only helps me understand the dreams,” Bruno says. “It gives me a universal voice to speak about something almost impossible to describe with words. After I complete a photo shoot and see my final image, I feel so relieved to have transformed a once uncontrollable nightmare into something positive and tangible.”

BrunoSleepless-1

“The characters I portray within my work are figures I’ve documented within my sleep paralysis episodes. Faceless men in suits often stand at the foot of my bed, and women in dresses might float across my bedroom to shriek in my ear. Sometimes I’m grasped by hands that attempt to drag me off of my bed. These characters reoccur, transform, and sometimes reveal more about themselves as time goes on,” explains Bruno.

Though Bruno still suffers from regular episodes of sleep paralysis, he has learned to minimize the contributing factors, which include excessive stress, too much screen time before bed, an irregular sleep schedule, and sleeping in unfamiliar locations.

BrunoSleepless-2

“As I’ve become used to the feelings,” he says, “I’ve found that riding out the experience subdues the terrifying nature of the dream and can leave room for analysis, and even a quick exit. If you allow the fear to win, you’ll never have control of the situation. My advice is to build up your courage to face these dreams head on, whether it be through strength, religion, logic, or spiritualism.”

I struggle with sleeplessness and insomnia, too. Strange dreams of partially true vignettes of moments in my past life sometimes intermingle with “newly scripted” happenings, making for a weird combination of mental nighttime gymnastics.

I’m a cancer survivor as well as a caregiver to my wife. No stress here!

When I consider the various meds I take daily as well as the numerous decisions and judgement calls my wife and I make on a daily basis, it’s probably no wonder why I have insomnia. And weird dreams.

I was interested when I heard about a lecture recently given by MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston relative to sleeplessness and insomnia. Here’s a link to a presentation I received that evening so you, too, can gain insight into this all-too troubling disorder.

Please don’t hesitate to share your own insomnia stories, especially if you have learned some techniques to counter or offset this malaise.

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween? The Trumpster Gets Treated.

Young trick or treaters being scared by a Trump-like figure with orange hair and carrying two very full pumpkins of candy

Striking, isn’t it? Kinda scary, too; well, at least for the little kiddos, all masked up with candy-laden pumpkins running for their lives. It’s Halloween, after all, and when I saw this illustration I couldn’t resist sharing on this most appropriate of “holiday.”

This blog is not purposefully political but because this cover art of a well-known magazine gets one’s attention by the illustration, I thought it worthy of being shared.

There will, of course, be those who don’t find it funny in the least; others will think it hilarious. Artwork, in this illustrative form, is very creative. It does more to entice the reader inside to view the story than any photograph would do.

It also helps that it’s Halloween.

The New Yorker offers a playful trick-or-treat-themed cover—with a political edge. The work of illustrator Mark Ulriksen, a longtime contributor to the magazine, it shows President Donald Trump striking fear into the hearts of trick-or-treaters.

When New Yorker Art Editor Francoise Mouly interviewed Mr. Ulriksen, he briefly addressed the political subtext of the cover:

Mouly: Your previous Halloween covers have featured a haunted version of the Capitol and some colorful characters in Congress. We’re sensing a theme.

Ulriksen: Yes, I somehow equate Washington politicians with scary monsters.

Well, there you have it, boys and girls.

Happy Halloween, everybody.

BOO!