Earlier this year I got an interesting invite from Hans-Peter Albrecht, Creative Director at Munich design school Akademie U5.
Would I like to join him and the Art Directors' Club of Europe on the Creative Express? Taking place in cable cars over the Austrian Tyrol at the height of summer? Oh go on then - you've twisted my arm!
I was asked along in my capacity as a content specialist and Managing Editor of the Lürzer's Archive website to mentor groups of copywriters, designers, art directors and other bright young creatives from across Europe who would be set the challenge of coming up with winning concepts for two real-life campaign briefs.
You can read my feature on Creative Express 2015 on the website, and see below to find out what I said in my talk to the teams before we hopped in the cable cars and the challenge began...
Creative ideas and the art of cutting through the noise
In 2014 I went to Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity for Lürzer's Archive. Every time I went to the press room there was this little machine in the corner, tick-tick-ticking away and printing out reams of paper (pictured above).
At the end of the festival when everyone was packing up, people were winding up all these printouts and placing them into large bin bags. I went over to help. It took ages – there were metres and metres of this paper. So I was able to ask, "What IS all this stuff!"
Turned out that Sapient Nitro were behind it - they’re the global agency that specialises in monitoring sentiment and looking at the connections between multiple digital platforms. They like to keep it old school by printing out the tweets like this. Sometimes they have clients who don’t really ‘get’ social media and don’t really see what phrases like ‘reach’ and ‘engagement’ mean. But when Sapient Nitro turn up and drop a load of bin bags full of physical tweets on their desk, suddenly it all makes sense.
But what does this mean to you?
It says that your creative idea has to stand out. There’s a lot of competition out there!
No one idea is in isolation. For it to work, to be a success, to win awards, it has to work across multiple platforms. I love Mad Men – but how simple that world was when they were just thinking about promoting Lucky Strike and Jaguar through magazines, TV, billboards and packaging design. Just a handful of platforms.
Now, your ideas have to be versatile to succeed. How can they stand out in an ad on Facebook, competing for your attention with banter from your friends and totes hilarious videos of cats? How can they work across multiple platforms in the context of so much other content whizzing around?
You have to go that little step further - think how Women's Aid didn't just put a campaign on a billboard, they made it interactive by using facial recognition technology to heal bruises on a woman’s face the more people looked at the ad.
The #ThisGirlCan campaign from Sport England and agency FCB Inferno just won big at Cannes Lions 2015 – it’s an idea that doesn’t just make sense when you’re scrolling through Twitter and seeing the hashtag, but when you put your phone down and get your backside to the gym and you're still thinking about it. The logo was created so the letters of ‘THISGIRLCAN’ fit neatly into a square, making it really easy to share on social media platforms. It’s the online and offline world. Why should the consumer see them as separate things?
And it’s not just the consumer whose attention you’re trying to attract. It’s journalists and editors like me suffering from inbox overload. Your press releases need to stand out too. Don’t make people work for it or they’ll hit delete and move on. Always include an easy two-line summary, lots of facts, links to videos, quality image content that will work in different dimensions and formats.
At the core of all this is the idea.
The creative idea. Keep it strong, keep it simple. See the multiple platforms as an opportunity to let your idea breathe, not a weight on your shoulders.
And if some idiot in the room early on says, "Ha! This will never work!"…if the idea is strong enough you will find a way.