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Our assault on imagination.

December 12th, 2012
By: adrian

g8613 Our assault on imagination.

Image via: Fred Babb

Creativity has been in the news lately what with one thing and another, but the continuing measurement of the decline in children’s creativity here in the US got me thinking about how we are probably guilty of doing the same thing within our industry.

We’ve been a big proponent of a lot of this stuff in the past, but more recently it’s starting to become clear that popular concepts like:

  • A push for small ideas
  • Lean or agile strategy or development
  • Optimization
  • Big data
  • Cut and paste
  • Snackable media

…are simply processes and techniques which, lacking an idea or focus, tend to become meaningless. Worse, their prominence in our conversations, debates and presentations, shape the level at which we think. When we only talk about processes,we become process-oriented and when this takes place over a longer period of time, it can’t help but lower the overall quality of thinking and output within the industry.

Perhaps this is why (although I don’t agree with everything he says) Sir John Hegarty has said there is a creative deficit within the advertising industry.

What do you think? Are we making ourselves less imaginative and less creative?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701322038 Nigel Carr

    every action may have an equal & opposite reaction, but sometimes you have to wait a long time for it to emerge.  

    the truth is that many big actions NEED an equal & opposite reaction ;-)

    nice job pointing that out–and advocating it.

    all of that logical stuff you’re talking about can actually ladder up to something huge & creative if the left brain control is loosened a bit, and you let yourself riff on where it could take you.  but just as you need to let yourself ping-pong from left brain to right brain to have ideas and get stuff done, i do believe that you also have to shuttle from “bottom up”/lots of small ideas that are hopefully consistent with the brand dna to “top down” refreshment/reminders of what that dna is & what can emerge from it when its full potential is unleashed ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701322038 Nigel Carr

    every action may have an equal & opposite reaction, but sometimes you have to wait a long time for it to emerge.  

    the truth is that many big actions NEED an equal & opposite reaction ;-)

    nice job pointing that out–and advocating it.

    all of that logical stuff you’re talking about can actually ladder up to something huge & creative if the left brain control is loosened a bit, and you let yourself riff on where it could take you.  but just as you need to let yourself ping-pong from left brain to right brain to have ideas and get stuff done, i do believe that you also have to shuttle from “bottom up”/lots of small ideas that are hopefully consistent with the brand dna to “top down” refreshment/reminders of what that dna is & what can emerge from it when its full potential is unleashed ;-)

  • http://zeusjones.com/blog adrianho

    Hi Nigel, I think you are right that it’s possible to ladder up from small things but what I’ve started to realise is that the atmosphere this approach creates among your teams and your clients is one of optimization, small improvements and logical incrementalism. Therefore, while it is possible, I am starting to believe it isn’t wise. Big ideas inspire and energize, they prove it’s possible to take leaps. The best way to execute a big idea may well be through a series of smaller ones, but I don’t believe it’s the best way to arrive at a big idea.

  • http://zeusjones.com/blog adrianho

    Hi Nigel, I think you are right that it’s possible to ladder up from small things but what I’ve started to realise is that the atmosphere this approach creates among your teams and your clients is one of optimization, small improvements and logical incrementalism. Therefore, while it is possible, I am starting to believe it isn’t wise. Big ideas inspire and energize, they prove it’s possible to take leaps. The best way to execute a big idea may well be through a series of smaller ones, but I don’t believe it’s the best way to arrive at a big idea.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701322038 Nigel Carr

    adrian: i couldn’t agree more and can’t wait for sanity to return.  

    i often feel like big thinking is “on hiatus” when a client’s in that trendy “bottom up” mode, if they also no longer believe in or no longer support their tp down brand idea.   tho  of course there will be times that kind of incrementalism can help build out the business and build out the brand’s effectiveness in the short term.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701322038 Nigel Carr

    adrian: i couldn’t agree more and can’t wait for sanity to return.  

    i often feel like big thinking is “on hiatus” when a client’s in that trendy “bottom up” mode, if they also no longer believe in or no longer support their tp down brand idea.   tho  of course there will be times that kind of incrementalism can help build out the business and build out the brand’s effectiveness in the short term.

  • http://twitter.com/deniseleeyohn Denise Lee Yohn

    i thoroughly agree — a  couple of years i wrote a piece lamenting that “marketing is losing its mojo” ( http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/marketing-losing-its-mojo-102504) — i observed “All this focus on social media and analytics seems to be sucking the creativity out of marketing. ” — it seems it’s only gotten worse in the time that’s passed — denise lee yohn

  • deniseleeyohn

    i thoroughly agree — a  couple of years i wrote a piece lamenting that “marketing is losing its mojo” ( http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/marketing-losing-its-mojo-102504) — i observed “All this focus on social media and analytics seems to be sucking the creativity out of marketing. ” — it seems it’s only gotten worse in the time that’s passed — denise lee yohn