Thursday, 27 September 2007

Idea Thinking...

An idea, yesterday. Picture via Julienne! Usual rules apply.

Rightyho. As promised in the last post, I thought I'd help by attempting to explain the difference between three notions of what an 'idea' is. Anyone who is reading this and wants to disagree, feel free - some of them are open to debate.

1) Executional Ideas

This one should be relatively straightforward. Basically, it's a one-off ad, which builds upon the overall campaign message. So say one of the BT ads with Kris Marshall does something different (say they meet his step-kids father, and the ad advertises new technology), it can be seen to be an executional idea.

Now, this can all be critiqued if the executional idea doesn't seem to fit into a brand line of thinking - say the ad had no resemblence to the ad before it, and jarred with the previous executions/campaigns. Now, if you wanted to criticise a piece of work in your interview/application form, I'd suggest stating that you thought the ad was 'just an executional idea' - that is, it's a one off which jars with any strategic thinking/campaign thoughts of previous work.

In theory, every new ad is an executional idea to an extent, so it needn't be a criticism. But it's a useful piece of terminology to pull out in an interview (particularly if you are interviewed by a planner - they love that stuff, for the most part). Of course, you'll have to explain why..

2) Campaign Ideas

A campaign idea then...I see campaign ideas as being longer term than an executional idea (natch), but not necessarily the full blown 'this is our longest term strategy, which will go on for 20+ years'. Most strategies fall into this category, especially with the quick turn over of new technologies/marketing directors/pricing plans (although work for the latter can just be simply an executional idea - it depends on the range of ads).

This is not to say that they aren't worthwhile, and bloody successful. Often, a really good piece of thinking/planning/creative on a Campaign idea will go on to form the basis of a brand idea - say 'Have a Break, Have a Kit-Kat' - giving people a reason to eat Kit-Kats by making it a little reward for their hard work. It may have once been a short term campaign thought to boost sales, but over time, it has become their big brand idea. (No, I wasn't about in 1957 when they thought it up, so I really don't know for sure).

A modern day example could be, ooh, the majority of ads out there - just be sure you know WHY it's a campaign idea and not an overall brand idea, otherwise you could be left open in interview.

3) Brand Ideas

The legendary ideas. Those that shape a company's thinking for the next 20, 30 or 40 years. Examples of this could be the Avis work 'We're Number 2, so we try harder', which has been running since 1962, the Economist print work from AMV BBDO and Guinness's transition from being 'Good for You' to making a virtue of the product taking a long time to pour, and how this impacts on things being worth waiting for - a genius bit of thinking.

Now, the industry is obsessed with 'big brand ideas', and the above three, I think it's safe to say, are examples of them. They are great and (usually) long lasting because they provide a new way of viewing the product, maybe turning a negative into a positive, but always, always reframing how we see things.

And, of course, they allow agencies to keep ahold of clients for a very long time. Which is great.

Essentially, if you start to talk about any big brand ideas, or any ads, be aware that if you can suss out the 'idea behind the ad', as cliched as that sounds, you'll do very well. It's very easy to say that you like Sony Balls because it's a fantastic piece of film; but what about the overriding message? Have you begun to decode what 'Like No Other' is implying, and how it may well become a great brand idea.

That said, when it comes to talking about other people's ideas, pick one which is likely to be a bit more original - EVERYONE will talk about Sony Balls, Gorilla, Skoda Cake or Citroen's Robot. Be smart, and pick something which isn't obvious - what about the new Brylcreem work? And by all means, say there are bits you don't like/understand etc, if needs be. How you respond initially is every bit as important as deciding which of the three categories the ad fits into - after all, you are viewing it as a potential consumer, and not a planner (yet..).

And for goodness sake, don't mindlessly slag off the ideas at the agency you are interviewing at. You can say you didn't understand things/don't agree with this and that, but be prepared to back it up - and realise that a lot of bad ads come about from poor agency/client relations; there will be a lot going on behind the work that you don't know about - politics and so forth. So be careful..

1 comment:

Jack Bauer said...

and when thinking about responses to 'the favorite ad' question do not be oblivious to other mediums where the campaign featured. Sony Balls - Great on TV...just as arousing on Digital Escalator Panels.

Gorilla (which by the way is SOO week 38 that its nearly at cheddar saturation levels)is perhaps the uber 40" spot but the last minute sponsorship of The GReat Gorilla Run was, perhaps rushed and planned very poorly.