This campaign helped Nike increase its share of the North American
sport-shoe business from 18% to 43%, (From $877 million to $9.2 billion
in worldwide sales) from 1988 to 1998.
All because a great
creative saw something. He saw the connection. For me that is what
creativity is. How you connect things. Things, that often don't make
This is what Steve Jobs had to say about the subject.
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."
I had stumbled on the Nike story and the
Steve Jobs quote because I was putting a talk together about creativity.
For me they show the power and the problem of intuition. The power is
the gigantic leap it can make for a business. The problem is it is
almost impossible to replicate. Just imagine a shoe company across town
from Nike saying we want a 'Just Do It' line. And their solution is to
try and copy the process. So, they get all the last words from every
prisoner executed in America. I think you can see how this is going to
end in tears. Yet, this is often what happens in advertising.
is the problem with being a creative. You don't always know how you did
something. This makes you vulnerable, insecure and a little guilty.
Because of this, most creatives I know on some level feel like a fraud.
It is also why a great creative environment is so important. It allows
creatives to play and most importantly try again.
I also watched a lot of other talks that were less interesting while I put my presentation together.
many of these talks, given by so called marketing experts, there was a
strange theme that ran through them all. They would talk about their
process a lot. They would talk about how efficiently and quickly they
got to 'ideas.' Many of them had foolproof ways and methods to get to
these ideas. Step 1 led to step 2. Flowchart. Many people vote on the
idea. Everybody agrees on the idea. Many post-its. Everybody high fives
because the process worked so well. But here is the kicker. And in my
world, it's a pretty big kicker.
The work was shit.
don't mean in a high-brow get off your high horse creative director way.
I mean, in a generic, vanilla, bland, I have seen this a hundred times
before kind of way.
I really found that strange. However, what I
found even more strange was that nobody seemed to notice. The people at
these conferences seemed far more interested in the process than the end
result. The work didn't really seemed to matter, as long as the process
could be replicated.
My other thought was where does intuition
fit into these processes? And perhaps, that is a stupid question.
Intuition should never be inside a process, should it? An idea like
'Just Do It' would not survive a 15 step process. You would lose the
edges and end up with some drivel like 'Be all you can be.' What nobody
seems to be noticing is that a factory like process makes things very
consistent but also very generic. Everything looks the same. Everything
sounds the same.
In advertising not to be different is virtually suicidal.
is a timeless quote from Bill Bernbach. It was made a long time ago. I
believe it still holds true. And, I believe it is far more true than
making generic work that looks and sounds like your competitor, putting
it everywhere and hoping you get a massive return on your investment.
creatives, the problem is and has always been that intuition, or that
messy spark of inspiration is illusive and almost impossible to
The alternative is to create a smooth process that can
be replicated and leads to something that often looks like everything
else. This is a much bigger problem that is growing by the day.
smooth process and a brilliant product are not the same thing. And
despite what many say, one doesn't lead to the other. Great work needs a
space for intuition.
No matter how many people try and turn creativity into a matrix, true creativity will always be the glitch in the matrix.
That's just how it works.
And why it is so valuable. damonsbrain.com