I went to a Creative Week session last Monday at City Winery called THE IDEA MATTERS….STILL. It opened with the panel (a bunch of Deutsch dudes: Jerome Austria, Bud Caddell, Morgan Carroll, Steve Nesle and Liz Gumbinner) talking about what they thought of their topic.
They asked themselves if it was bullshit.
And they concluded – spoiler alert! – yes and no.
Yes, because if you’re a creative, you know that “The Big Idea” still matters.
No, because while the importance of “The Big Idea” hasn’t changed, what it is absolutely has.
So how do you know if you’ve come up with “The Next Big Idea”…or something else?
Here are some new rules for nailing it.
Don’t mistake a tactic for an idea. This is hard to do with so many gimmicky technologies out there. Lots of so-called Big Ideas are simply cool uses of technology. And these projects can be cool and successful and groundbreaking. While that’s great for technology, it’s not so great if you’re trying to be a conceptual creative.
Remove the glitter. You can reduce the best ideas down to a single sentence – the Deutsch guys talked about writing it down and leaving out the strategy, the visuals, really everything except the thought. Without all the glitter, does is still feel like a Big Idea? Or is it really an average idea wearing too much makeup?
Don’t perfect your Big Idea. It’s more important to get it out there for people to play with. Then, based on how people interact with it, figure out how to make it better. In digital, it’s easier to experiment with an idea and iterate. The important thing isn’t polishing your idea to perfection. It’s putting it in people’s hands and creating the experience that people want. Look at how Instagram and Twitter and Facebook change every few months. That’s because they’re not worried about being perfect. They’re looking for the feedback it takes to make their experience a better one.
Don’t put it all out there. Now that everything can be viewed or visited over and over again, give people a reason to spend more time with your idea. People are looking for experiences they can play with or learn from. They don’t want everything placed on a silver, pixelated platter. People like to debate online, so let them. Hold something back and give them something to talk about. The Deutsch guys talked about their online VW video The Bark Side – the one with dogs barking The Imperial March from Star Wars. The script called for dressing up all the dogs as Star Wars characters. At the last minute they decided to leave costumes off half the dogs. Instead of making it obvious which dogs were which characters, they let people debate who was who. There’s an Ewok, and Chewbacca, but is that Obi Wan or the Emperor? If you can’t tell, watch it again!
We’re still creatives looking for the next Big Idea.
But as you go hunting for it, remember that it’s not just “The Big Idea” that matters – it’s how you get to it.