What I find interesting is that within ad agencies, 99% of the conversation about what they do is focused on “the creative idea,” and yet outside of ad agencies, 99% of what people talk about in communications is the change in media channels. Go on Twitter and try to find 20 tweets about an advertising creative idea that rocks in the next 5 minutes; good luck (Super Bowl week doesn’t count). Go on Twitter next and try to find 20 tweets about what Apple is doing with its upcoming hardware gizmo, and you’ll go “check” in a few seconds. People are obsessed with media channels and tools; agencies keep talking about ideas. Therein is a disconnect. The intersection of media channel and creative idea is rarely explained, although a few smart shops such as BBH Labs have discussed ending the top-down creative-to-media funnel and building a more integrated planning whole.
Or put another way, good creative is now a commodity.
The reason I suggest this is in a world where people watch 5 hours of TV a day seeing 166 :30 second spots, or spend 3 hours on the Internet a day being exposed to thousands of banner ad and video pre-roll impressions, 99% of creative ideas are ignored. Completely. Creative is really now a pass-fail grade — you get noticed, or more likely, you don’t, and even if your idea is in the 10% of brilliant executions, you’re still competing with 16 other top-of-the-heap TV spots and a few hundred other banner ads.
Go ahead, build a brilliant idea. You’ll be one of 50 or so I’m exposed to tomorrow.
This is not a negative; advertising is as always a game of what we catch, not what we spill. You could argue as well that good ideas and creative are more important than ever before in a world agog in communications overload. But this commoditization of idea brilliance is a real problem, and you can see it yourself if you measure the downcycle timeline of any big “idea” that goes viral. Most newfound memes spike but for a few days and then disappear. See ya, Skittles homepage.
What I’d love to see, if I were a student in Edward Boches’ class on creative, is how the construct of media channel and the pinnacle of brilliant creative inform each other, instead of the “idea” itself being something separate. This combination is the only path I see to truly breaking out and building something with sustained power and resonance.