Are We Missing Something?

I’m a big fan of what we do for a living - events, brand experiences, experience marketing. Whatever flavour of the business you are in, I’m sure you’ll agree it is fascinating. But the part that’s really got me thinking at the moment is the constant ...er… lets call it ‘tension’, between the delivery arm of the industry and the content creation part. Which is the most important? Well one of the strengths of what we do is our ability to produce the media through which we work - it’s like being your own Facebook - but without that troublesome ‘fake news’ business. That ability to be on top of the production is vital. It keeps us connected to the audience, it allows us to bring in the latest technologies, it gives our clients editorial control on the day, plus there’s brand consistency, image and all those other great things.

Then there is the content creation - the heart of the experience. We all know that content is king. Not only is it the heart of the event, but it has a life before and after the event. It lives forever on-line, amplifying the message and extending the reach of the campaign. That’s exciting; we are in an exciting industry that really produces results. So far so good - you can be in one camp or the other and do a great job for your clients wherever you happen to pitch your tent. But here’s the thing. Recently, three clients have asked me roughly the same question; “...if we were to allocate another sum of money to this activity we’re planning, where would you spend it?” You may choose to advise your client to spend it on the production, improve the sound or the image or the lighting, but would the audience even notice the (marginal) difference? You may tell them to spend it on improving the content of the event; video, speakers or even to capture the whole event again for dissemination, expansion and amplification.

You could suggest any of these.  But I wouldn’t.  I’d ask for some money for more time. I’d ask for the time and the money to be creative. Let me explain.  ‘Creativity’, ‘innovation’, ‘out of the box thinking’, ‘blue sky approach’, ‘wow factor’, ‘something that has never been done before’ - words like this are in every brief. Every brand wants it and every agency is trying to deliver it because everyone knows great creativity changes minds, it builds brands, creates change and is the right answer to every question. It’s the winning hand. But it doesn’t happen by accident and it needs something different to get it started. Brands and agencies are, for the most part, efficient businesses.  They make critical decisions every day - judgement calls - but creativity comes from a different place, a playful place, a different mind state. It needs the right environment, it needs the right stimulus and it needs the right atmosphere.  At a time when efficiency is key all that can seem a little, well, frivolous.

To find the right idea - the idea that inspires - is the key to every event, every experience. Every event brief should start with one objective, a higher purpose -  to inspire.

All of the other things that go to make up the event are important.  Very important. But in a world searching for meaning, inspiration is the number one objective and creating the right idea that makes that happen is the job for all of us no matter who we work for, whatever the brand or agency and whatever the department we work in.

In order for that to happen we need to build in some time, and we all know what time is, don’t we? Anybody? Yes you are right, in the world we operate in - time is money! So let’s not give away free creativity just to win the production delivery, let’s not just throw the brightest shiniest piece of technology in to distract. Let’s build in some time to think.

Let’s start with the idea (and let’s not call it ‘the big idea’).  Maybe call it the organising thought, which is built on insight? How do we get there? Well, we don’t get there by getting people in a board room all looking at someone with a magic marker and a flip chart!

A little too long to go into here as there are many techniques, see me after class or check out my mate Chris at https://uppingyourelvis.com

The starting point, as I have said already, is about environment, fun, trust and stimulus So let’s say you have an idea or a couple of ideas that you are excited about – what next?

Nurture them, build on them, help them grow stronger (don’t let anyone stomp on them). Then take them to the client for an informal meeting. Don’t spend too much time preparing. Take a really simple stick man-style sketch of the idea and go with the couple of people who are most passionate about each idea. It’s that simple.

Some of you are shouting at me, ‘my client wants a fully costed proposal’, ‘client procurement doesn’t work like that,’ ‘it’s not that easy’. I hear you, and believe me I know; this is my life. My advice to you? Try, ask, explain. You will be surprised.

Creativity is always the wining hand.


Kevin Jackson, Business Growth Specialist

A long-standing disruptor and thought-leader, Kevin Jackson has been an influential player with some of the world’s most respected marketing services groups, including Interpublic, Grey, Saatchi, and then in the live space with Jack Morton and George P Johnson. Working with a vast range of brands, from Adidas to Zumba, and everything in between, he has explored every discipline within the marketing mix. 

Learn more about Kevin and what he does Here