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Why we should listen to the beat of simplicity’s heart.

dbs81270:

For the creatives. A piece about why we need simplicity now more than ever.

Originally posted on Damon's Brain:

Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.

Mike Tyson

Many years ago I was in a terrible team. We didn’t get on and because of this we would have these long, stupid philosophical discussions about the right way to have ideas. We would talk about structure and what things should be called and how we should approach a project. We literally did everything besides have an idea. Even now, I can remember the ball tightening, paralysed fear, I felt every day as we tried to surf yet another semantic Tsunami.

We never agreed on anything and more importantly, never had any ideas worth talking about. It was a pretty dark moment in my career but it taught me one thing.Talking about having ideas, having theories about ideas, espousing a philosophy about creating ideas is not the fucking same as having one. And it taught me one…

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Why we should listen to the beat of simplicity’s heart.

  

Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.

Mike Tyson

Many years ago I was in a terrible team. We didn’t get on and because of this we would have these long, stupid philosophical discussions about the right way to have ideas. We would talk about structure and what things should be called and how we should approach a project. We literally did everything besides have an idea. Even now, I can remember the ball tightening, paralysing fear, I felt every day as we tried to surf yet another semantic Tsunami.

We never agreed on anything and more importantly, never had any ideas worth talking about. It was a pretty dark moment in my career but it taught me one thing.Talking about having ideas, having theories about ideas, espousing a philosophy about creating ideas is not the fucking same as having one. And it taught me one other thing.

Complexity kills ideas. Simplicity gives birth to them.

The reason I mention this episode is I feel the industry is doing exactly what I did when I was in that team. There is an obsession with what things are called.What is new and what is no longer new. The new creative. The old creative. Copywriters and Art Director’s are dead. What the new model should be. How things should be structured. And of course, enough semantic fruit salad to feed every vegan in the Western world. We don’t talk about ideas half as much as what is around them or the correct way to have them.

All I can say is thank God for people like Dave Trott. For me, his common sense and simplicity is the antidote to a lot of the shit I read every day about our business.

The truth is there are many people in our industry who make a lot of money by talking about complexity. They constantly explain how it all works. That advertising has changed forever. Normally, you will find this is because they are trying to sell a methodology or perspective to make some moolah. Complexity and commerce masquerading as our future.

The strange thing about all these snake oil salesmen is their presentations normally take you right up to the point where you actually have to have the idea. And then the Venn diagrams stop. They talk about everything before the idea or after the idea. Never the idea itself.

So I thought I would talk about an idea. An idea that shows why we need simplicity.

Spoiler alert. It is one I was involved in. So I am comfortable if you scream out shameless self-promotion at this point.

Last year, I was part of a successful campaign for OPSM called Penny the Pirate. It has won over 50 international awards and it started with a very beautiful idea.

What if you could create a children’s book that parents could use to test their children’s eyes when they read them a bedtime story?

This simple idea became an award winning app, a mobile campaign, an integrated campaign, direct campaign, I could go on. It also took an army of amazing people to bring this all to life. It taught me how an integrated campaign today is complex. It taught me how many people you need to make it happen. It taught me how a simple idea becomes the structure that glues everything together. Bill Bernbach said if you can’t write your idea on the back of a business card, it’s probably not an idea. And we will always need strong, beautiful simple ideas. Here is why.

Let me take you into a creative department today. If you are doing anything in advertising these days it will be integrated. Some ideas that I have worked on have taken up to two years to see the light of day, others might have to happen within in an hour.  And, today it takes a village to do either. What this means is that creatives, technologists and a variety of other disciplines work together to make it happen.That can be very complex because of the variety of perspectives that have to be harnessed quickly or over long periods of time. So, it becomes imperative to have a simple idea, a North Star, that every one understands but can interpret in their own way.

This the secret. The idea drives the structure, not the other way round. In essence, the idea creates the structure it needs. This is when it all works. Lego can become anything. If you have a simple idea. If you don’t, you just have blocks on the carpet.

In 20 years of being a creative I have never seen complexity or process get somebody to a new place. I have seen simplicity do it over and over. It’s what creatives need today, more than ever.

In short, the world has become more complex. Therefore we need ideas to become more simple to succeed.

Many in our industry are adding to this complexity by being obsessed with talk of the correct system or new jargon and labels rather than what is actually being created. People that actually make stuff just care about the idea or solution.

And if you don’t have that, the rest doesn’t really matter does it?

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10 000 bicycles. Why creatives need cults.

dbs81270:

A piece about what creatives need to succeed beyond your wildest imagination.

Originally posted on Damon's Brain:

20140208-181324.jpg

“You can look at anything as a cult. Churches are cults in their own way.”
Philip Seymour Hoffman

Whenever I go to America I always feel like I am in a giant sitcom or film. Everything is familiar. A type of television déjà vu.

San Francisco was no different with our Russian taxi driver wanting to show us where the title sequence of Full House was shot. And neither was the Mountain view Google Campus. They shot The Internship there. A weird feeling of understanding and belonging to a place you have never actually physically seen.

To say the campus is impressive would be a large understatement. It has a cafeteria with unbelievable food. Employee’s have access to dry-cleaning, a world class gym, incredible daycare, a hair salon and over 10 000 multi-coloured Google bicycles to ride from one part of the campus to the other. And I am probably…

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Dan Wieden and The Imitation Game.

dbs81270:

For the creatives. A piece about what is true in our business and what is not.

Originally posted on Damon's Brain:

Sometimes the Universe helps you out. I was going to see Dan Wieden speak in Sydney. On the plane, I watched The Imitation Game. it is the story of Alan Turing and how he broke Enigma. It was seen as impossible to break.It had 150 000 000 000 000 possible combinations. Turing did it by building Christopher. A machine that today we would call a computer.

What was fascinating was how Turing, who was clearly a troubled genius was all about doing. The others at Bletchley Park were about talking or career or ego. They wanted to be seen to be doing things, instead of actually doing them. Turing didn’t care about talk and posturing. He succeeded because he had the ability but more importantly had the balls to try and do something impossible. He was not about the wrapping paper. He was all about the gift.

A couple of…

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Dan Wieden and The Imitation Game.

Sometimes the Universe helps you out. I was going to see Dan Wieden speak in Sydney. On the plane, I watched The Imitation Game. it is the story of Alan Turing and how he broke Enigma. It was seen as impossible to break.It had 150 000 000 000 000 possible combinations. Turing did it by building Christopher. A machine that today we would call a computer.

What was fascinating was how Turing, who was clearly a troubled genius was all about doing. The others at Bletchley Park were about talking or career or ego. They wanted to be seen to be doing things, instead of actually doing them. Turing didn’t care about talk and posturing. He succeeded because he had the ability but more importantly had the balls to try and do something impossible. He was not about the wrapping paper. He was all about the gift.

A couple of hours later I am in the presence of Dan Wieden. His speech is inspirational. It is about bravery and caring about creativity. He speaks about his love for chaos and not selling out. In fact, in his will he has inserted the clause that Wieden and Kennedy cannot be sold even when he dies. I would say that is walking the talk.

Great talks in advertising are not always about new ideas. Sometimes they are about the truth. A truth you may have forgotten or have been trying to forget. We all know what we should be doing. Dan Wieden simply reminded us of what that is. He has spent 30 years figuring it out so I would say he is worth listening to.

So far, so good. Then we have question time. And somebody asks what Wieden’s formula for success is. Formula? There were a few bullshit look at me corporate questions like that. Wieden’s answer was something along the lines of there is no fucking formula for chaos. Fantastic.

I suddenly had this strange merging of the film and the speech. In both, people want greatness to be easy. They want the 5 steps to success. They want to appear like they are doing something, when in reality they are not. I have often said our business wants the results of creativity without having to deal with creativity itself. They want it to be neat and tidy.

The problem with that is we are creating a business with very similar perspectives and opinions. We speak about innovation and taking risks constantly at millions of seminars. We talk about how important glitches in the Matrix are. But does advertising still want them? Is it just us bullshitting ourselves?

What I took out of that speech was Dan Wieden is a man who has been passionate about ideas for 30 years. He is comfortable with chaos and risk. He has experienced his fair share of failures and setbacks. Nevertheless, he has always been excited by things that have never been done. He does not have a formula. Because a formula would imply replication. And replication is not what a creative business is about. He also isn’t that interested in the packaging of creativity. He is interested in creativity. And most importantly he has an iron clad belief in the chaotic process of having ideas.

There’s that word again. Belief. It is a word you don’t hear in our industry very much anymore. Dan Wieden was on that stage because he believes in what he is doing. It is that simple. Belief is not a formula, a list or a whole lot of bullet points you put on posters around your agency.

Belief is something, however, that helps you take risks to do something that has not been done.

And there is no formula for that. Or, to put it in Mr Weiden’s own words.

Just Do It.

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