'Sometimes you can ignore the client brief' - five ways to encourage creativity in comms

Jeremy Page, director at KWT Global, offers advice on fostering a creative environment among PR pros.

Your next moment of 'crazy' could be the gold dust that changes the fate of a brand, says Jeremy Page
Your next moment of 'crazy' could be the gold dust that changes the fate of a brand, says Jeremy Page

1. There's no such thing as a new idea.

The most seemingly innovative and original creatives in history are often not half as new as they seem. Tesla's Model S electric car, for instance, had more than one predecessor - in fact, 30,000 electric cars were registered in the US in 1900. Nothing comes from nothing; the best ideas take elements of what has gone before and reuse them in innovative ways.

2. Always question the client brief – and sometimes, ignore it.

A detailed brief is a luxury, but if a vague one lands you have two options. Either you can ignore it and build a campaign likely to surprise and delight the client (risky, but can be incredible) or you can interrogate the brief and mine for as much information as you can get. Ask yourself: what pressures is the client facing? What do you think is its biggest challenge? How willing is it to take risks? The more you know, the more informed your thinking will be.

3. Sometimes the best ideas come from the most junior person in the room.

I once attended a talk by Muhtar Kent, former chairman and chief executive of Coca-Cola. He described how, in an open creative brief, an obscure agency responded to the challenge of owning the World Cup with a simple apostrophe. Coke loved the idea so much that it launched the 2014 'World's Cup' campaign. A small idea, with massive meaning. A really great idea can come from anywhere, no matter how much experience you have or how senior you are.

4. Use 'slow multi-tasking mode' for tough challenges.

Darwin reportedly used 'slow multi-tasking mode' moving between different projects. It famously enabled him to cross-pollinate ideas and apply one theory to another. Multi-disciplinary thinking can be a huge benefit in nailing a creative challenge. So, where you can bring in specialists with different backgrounds, it's always a good idea.

5. Embrace your craziness.

We're all a little crazy. Give yourself licence to indulge it. If you reverse-engineer some of the best creatives in the past 10 years, you can imagine how crazy they sounded at first. You want to turn an Iceland store into a skating rink? You think a meerkat will appeal to customers looking for car insurance? This girl can… do what? Your next moment of 'crazy' could be the gold dust that changes the fate of a brand – or even someone's life. You’d be mad to ignore it.

Jeremy Page is a director at KWT Global


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