At creativity festivals, it is customary when examining work to assess how original each idea is, and to look for fresh, groundbreaking work. But, can we go deeper than that? Mindscapes’ analysis shows that the majority of award-winning marketing communications ideas share recurring patterns of thinking. These patterns, paradoxically, help break existing moulds and originate surprising ideas.
We can transform these thinking patterns into practical mental tools. Each suggests a disruptive technique for looking at an existing system and deconstructing it in order to create a new idea, or develop a new system altogether.
To help you to spot these patterns at Spikes Asia, let’s look at the thought patterns shared by some multiple-award winners at the recent Cannes Lions.
What does a campaign that used leftover yeast from beer brewing to create fuel have in common with songs used to help Parkinsons patients recover their ideal walking pace?
‘Brewtroleum’ for DB Export by Colenso BBDO Auckland
‘Parkinsounds’ for Teva by Havas Life, Sao Paolo
Both campaigns have a pattern called ‘new tasking’ — assigning a new and unexpected task to an existing resource, which offers an innovative way to deliver a message and provide real value.
The use: Putting your mind through this pattern helps it overcome a mental block called ‘functional fixedness’, in which the mind automatically associates an object with its known function. The key is identifying the right resource within the system and then assigning it with the right creative new task.
Another mental technique is ‘relocation’. This pattern involves relocating a component from one system to another, while maintaining its function. This creates a new experience in an unexpected place.
In ‘Pinlist’, by DDB Sao Paolo, the pin-it button was relocated from an online interface to Tok&Stok furniture.
For BMW’s ‘Animal-detecting billboards’, Demner, Merlicek & Bergmann relocated a car’s night vision onto billboards.
The use:This pattern overcomes a mental block called ‘structural fixedness’ in which our mind perceives systems as a whole, making it hard to reimagine components.
How about linking an internal product trait to an unexpected external variable? In ‘Sugar detox’ for Intermache by Marcel Paris, the amount of sugar in chocolate yoghurt was decreased to meet recommended consumption levels, from 5 percent to 50 percent less than the market average.
The use:This pattern helps build connections between previously unconnected variables, resulting in a new idea.
Create a product
Instead of communicating an existing offering, try creating a new product. For health food store Nas Grunt, McCann Prague created honey using processed foods to show how much hidden sugar lurks inside. Or one of the biggest winners at Cannes was the ‘McWhopper’, which proved just the idea of a new product can work.
The use: The new product, when launched, promoted and experienced by consumers in real life, thereby helping them realise the truth of the original message.
Ravid Kuperberg is a partner at Mindscapes, a creative thinking training team which works with leading advertising agencies, networks and companies around the world
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