Where is the big idea?

It was in the late 1930s that the American Advertising manager and writer Alex Osborn popularized a healthy technique for coming up with great ideas. It was called ‘brainstorming’. Surprisingly, if not tragic, it still remains as a technique that has more or less had its day. I have observed that everybody loves a ‘brainstorming’ session. But nobody knows how to do it. I personally call it ‘skullstorming’ sessions because we end up using every part of our body in these sessions, except the brain. And most of the time, big ideas are never generated over a single brainstorming session. Simply because our brains are not programmed to come up with instant solutions. We have to constantly attack a problem over a period in time, till we reach a stage where subconsciously our brain is gathering information (all that we have read) & experiences (all that we have sensed) & thoughts (all that we have pondered over). And then boom! The big idea happens. (That’s one of the reasons why I think bathrooms / restrooms are scared spaces).

Here I list down 4 important aspects which we must take into consideration before entering a ‘skullstorming’ session:

i. The Goal – Almost every great campaign or TVC shares a common feature: within a few seconds, an observer can produce a clear statement of their goal, encapsulating the strategy and message in a short sentence. And this can be done without the observer ever having to go through the brief. This shows how important it is to distill the complexities of the brief down to a single minded proposition.

ii. The Perspective – Great ideas happen when you look at the subject from a particular perspective. When you are aware of this, you can try changing the point of view to create new ideas and solutions. For example, you could imagine what it was like for people before the product existed in the market, or how their lives have changed after they have used it. Even more bizzare – how would extraterrestrial elements treat this product? How was a problem tackled in the past and how is it tackled today? How does the product appear to a woman and how does it appear to a man? How is the product viewed by its packaging or competitors or animals?

iii. Senses – Many campaigns are primarily dominated by visual ideas and tend to neglect all other senses: smell, taste, touch and hearing. Trying to adapt your ideas so that they work on a different sensory level can produce some great results. For example, does the roomy interior of a car have to be shown visually, or could you also bring it to life via sound – maybe by using reverberation or echoes?

iv. The medium and implementation – Many ideas are born free. But then they are locked into a format. I don’t think we can classify any big idea as ‘traditional’ or ‘digital’ as the boundary lines of both these spaces are blurring. It means that we constantly ask ourselves whether an idea can be more effectively realized in another medium. Finally it all boils down to implementation. A clumsy implementation of an idea can ruin a thought or a campaign.

Now, after having listed down these important aspects, you may ask me for an example that successfully captures all of these aspects from start to finish. Sure! I personally love the TVC made for BMW motorbikes. Its based on a single thought and it has been executed brilliantly on a digital medium where technology acts as an ‘enabler’ to drive the thought – unstoppable. Truly a big idea that has a goal, perspective, appeals to the senses, executed in an apt medium and implemented well. Watch both the videos. Enjoy.


~ by rb on November 9, 2011.

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