It instilled in me this idea of being open to solutions. Answers are not
pre-ordained and can come from anywhere. Ideas can semi belong to one
person and half belong to another. Ideas are not very fond of rules and
I mention this because lately, I have noticed two strange things in our business.
rules, have begun to crop up before there is even an idea to judge. I
will hear conversations about how something is going to happen long
before we even know what is going to happen. It has to be mobile,
digital or if you are doing a film it has to be this long or that way.
And we still have no idea of what we are doing yet. It is what I call
putting the accuracy before the horse. The idea should come first.
right now, advertising seems to be made up of absolute entrenched
positions. Advertising's strength has always been about being able to
look at a problem from multiple perspectives. Like the suit and the
creative I mentioned earlier, the different points of view created
friction but also made the work better. When it comes to the messy
business of having ideas, deciding there is only one right way is the
easiest and fastest way to be wrong. The trick is to stay open to ideas
and possibilities. That is what a creative should do. That is his or her
job. Trying to have some ironclad formula, or methodology, will only
give you what you already have. There are some very polarised views at
the moment. It feels like many believe they have to back just one horse.
The horses names are accuracy and attraction. And my money is on a dead heat.
Before you place your bets, do yourself a favour and read Ian Leslie's brilliant article in the New Statesman here
It shows the schism that is emerging in our business far more eloquently than I ever could.
a creative perspective it really does feel like this thinking is
pushing meaningless choices or creating filters and channels long before
there is an idea. There is often a large discussion about accuracy and
very little about attraction. To use Rory Sutherland's analogy, these
days we talk a lot about where the weeds should go because that can be
measured. Speaking to many creatives, the flower can often be an
I guess the issue is a beautiful flower is a lot like charm. Desirable, yet hard to measure.
somebody, let's call him Sven. He has a well paid job making things
more streamlined, measurable and efficient. One day he pops into his
favourite french bistro after work with one of his work mates called
Doug. Sven likes going there because of the foreign music, the old
school posters on the walls and the slightly mad ambiance. He enjoys the
crazy chef who shouts a lot. The host has loads of funny stories, is
effortlessly charming and always remembers Sven's name. While all this
pleasantness is washing over him Doug says to him - why do you like
coming here, the tables are too bloody small. He had never noticed.
That's the thing about radiant beauty, a good yarn and a dollop of
charm, in the right hands, they are way more powerful than being correct
Some in our industry might want to discard or
minimise these things because they are hard to measure, yet they have
never been needed more than now.
There is a simple reason for this.
People like them. People want them. People need them.
Tinder. You can create an efficient service that gives you lots of data
and measurement. But where the technology ends, people begin. You might
be able to get them that date very efficiently. But, it is those pesky
humans who are going to have the date. So, the next day the story isn't
about Tinder and efficiency. It's about the date Jenny had with the
weird guy who had a mullet and a very large goldfish collection. Or,
perhaps, how she just met the love of her life. It is not just about
what we efficiently give. It is also about what people want. And, what
people often want is immeasurable. Charm, beauty, seduction, surprise,
love and new stories. Human experience. The things that make life worth
We need what can be measured. Time and distance. This is
the compass. However, we also need what can't be measured. The story of
what happened on the journey. This is the engine.
And we need to quickly realise, one is very pointless, without the other.