Before Easter I took a trip to the US and Canada to visit our agencies in my new capacity as Le Grand Fromage Creative de la CDM.
My ‘talk to the troops’, or as our CEO Kyle Barich described it, my ‘Stump’ speech was a way of introducing myself to those who had no idea who I was or how I got the job or what the job was. It was also a chance to share some of my thinking about creativity and pharma and whatnot.
I hadn’t reckoned on the North American weather though and so the trip was somewhat compromised by a shit ton of snow which decided to disrupt a promising spring in New York, so sadly I never made it to Montreal. It was like the scene in Home Alone when the mum tries to get back to save Kevin and due to no flights has to share a bus with a Polka band, lead by John Candy.
Well, there was no touring Polka band but the frustration was similar.
I managed a quick visit to our Princeton agency but these were guys who’ve become extreme weather experts and weren’t dumb enough to attempt to make it in to the agency with two feet of snow forecast, so a small band of hardened professionals were left holding the fort, while the others worked remotely.
Nevertheless as a small part of my ‘stump speech’ I started to grow more fond of this notion of where ideas come from and how it needn’t be the high brow visits to art galleries and French independent films that supply all the ideas to steal, I mean..ahem..be inspired by.
As you know, if you are looking for inspiration, by the time you come to sit down with a pencil and paper and try and think of something it’s already too late if there’s nothing in the idea bank. You need to be making deposits all the time.
For a creative you never know when the visual or intellectual stimuli will resurface. Even a night in the Hyatt in a business park in New Jersey can provide fodder at some point.
(Right now I can’t think what, but the 1970’s decor and cold scrambled egg was a delight and may pay dividends some day!)
But I digress.
This idea for a flexible fabric Bandaid would only have come from someone who’d skipped the Rauschenburg retrospective at the Tate Modern and gone to watch a Marvel movie instead. I love this idea, yes I know it’s just a print ad, but the thinking is so pure no copy, beyond what the product does, is necessary.
Similarly this idea for Wonderbra swimwear has a delightful simplicity that can only have come from a few viewings of Finding Nemo.
But it’s also not about just watching films, arty or otherwise. (although I highly recommend it)
I was reminded of this when I read about how Dan Weiden (founder of Weiden and Kennedy) who among other things wrote the famous Nike line ‘Just do it’.
Who would have though that his inspiration would have come from the last words of the famous American killer Gary Gilmore.
As the firing squad lined up and he was strapped in to his chair he just said ‘Let’s do it’.
Dan wanted something that would inspire professionals and amateurs alike, an attitude he could apply to the brand and this somehow popped in to his head.
He didn’t like ‘let’s’ in copy, so he changed it to ‘Just’.
And the rest is adland history.
We can get so tied up in our heads that we disregard the everyday creativity and attitudes that surround us. The conversations on the bus, the random acts of graffiti wit on walls. If we want to relate to people on a people basis the more ways we can find to repackage the familiar in unfamiliar ways the easier our job will be.
And so little of it comes from staring at our phones while life goes on around us.
Our clients and customers aren’t art critics or film buffs. They like populist work, they like pop tunes and they like best selling novels about crime and love (okay and maybe science).
So by all means check out the Turner prize winners, go to the opera but also next Sunday when you’re lazily skimming through Netflix in a fug of hangover, take a look at that Pixar movie and well …
… Just do it.