In creative reviews I have always destabilised creatives by saying: “No, that’s advertising, we don’t do advertising.” When they looked up at me with a puzzled face, that was the cue to explain which kind of ideas I was really looking for; ideas that start from the brand and have the ambition to become part of today’s culture.
When I make the same remark today, my creatives don’t look that puzzled anymore, because they know the period we are all going through is our chance to give advertising a good name.
Covid-19 has almost forced us to come up with ideas with a purpose. And these kinds of ideas demand three-dimensional thinking from our creatives. And that’s a different ballgame compared to the two-dimensional thinking most of us are conditioned for.
Three-dimensional ideas imply you have to link your idea to a brand’s problem and a societal problem at the same time and create impact for the brand and in people’s lives. The result can be a campaign, a new service or tool.
A shift from 2D to 3D
To be a three-dimensional thinker, a mental shift is needed. To put it bluntly, today’s creatives are masters in two-dimensional thinking. If you give creatives the freedom to create, they don’t start from the brand. No, they like to start from a societal problem and come up with a witty way to dramatize or solve the problem. Then they re-engineer how this matches with a possible client. If there are any results, it’s mostly PR for the agency, preferably worldwide and not so much in the country where the brand is active. This is classic for ideas made for award shows. But with award shows having lost relevance, I hope these two-dimensional ideas will decrease. And if they are still around, they will be easier to spot, because they lack that third dimension. Did you solve a brand’s problem? Did you have a real KPI? And did you attain them?
Great ideas have a business plan
Let’s go a bit deeper into that new breed of ideas that needs a new breed of creatives. three-dimensional ideas start from a societal problem, but are also linked to a brand story from the beginning. This way you will never tap into the wrong societal problem.
Three-dimensional creatives are not satisfied when an idea only gets attention for the agency, but when it attains the KPI’s for the brand; they are not happy when an idea merely aired somewhere, but when it got reach it became part of culture. This is ambitious and it requires new skills from our creatives. In order to add this third dimension, as a creative you should be able to understand the strategy of your clients, the business of your clients, but you should also be able to think in terms of touchpoints. You have better ideas if you are more ambitious for your client than for yourself. “It’s not about the idea alone anymore, it’s about the business plan for the idea. “Good ideas make a splash in our small scene and its award shows. Great ideas make a splash in society and for our clients.”
In a way we have to thank Covid-19 for pushing creatives to go from two-dimensional to three-dimensional thinking; an idea linked to a brand purpose, to something that lives in society and has measurable results. That’s three boxes to tick. But if you tick those three boxes, it’s bingo. For the agency and for the client. And since we want three dimensions, for society as well.