Why Ideas Aren't What They Used to Be

And Why That's Good for Creativity

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Marc Brownstein Marc Brownstein
A few years ago, Hershey Foods approached Ogilvy with the assignment of creating a spectacular billboard to be displayed in Times Square. Ogilvy responded by creating a retail store in Times Square, with a spectacular billboard on top of it. Irresponsible? Exactly the opposite. It was a move that was ahead of its time. And an example of where our business is headed.

The days of filling prescriptions with just print, TV, radio and billboards is not just over but recommending that today will get your agency in trouble with your client. Truly.

Folks, the new media that we live with today has forced us to go back to our roots and remind us of what business we are in: ideas. Any kind of idea. But certainly not one with a pre-destined media scrip attached to it. It has to be a free-form idea, applicable to anything, anywhere. Like a microsite. Or a guerilla effort. It's OK to recommend print, or direct mail, but it's made more relevant when it drives you somewhere, like the microsite, to seek more information about the brand.

A lot of people in the advertising business bemoan the state of the industry today. But I think it's incredibly exciting. And so do a lot of copywriters and art directors I talk with. Think about it: The discipline of coming up with a concept, without pre-destined media vehicles, is very liberating. I'd argue that it disciplines a creative team into having a laser focus on solving the marketing problem, without being encumbered by the "where" phase of the marketing plan. Better ideas are being birthed. Creatives are having more fun. Clients are getting better work. And, ultimately, advertising will continue to be relevant and effective for years to come.
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