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October 12, 2006

The Creative Life. An occasional column.

BsLearn from the stuff you don't love.

We've said before that there is room for many voices in this business. There is no one right way to do things. There is no one answer to any brief.

I find that it's a worthwhile exercise to examine spots that, in seventy-eight billion years, I would never conceive. Like this one for Bombay Sapphire (you can find it and watch it on the company's Web site).

So, an elephant walks into a temple filled with martini glasses. He almost crushes one glass, but stops short. Next the creature navigates an ethereal set of stairs before finally placing some olives in a glass next to the product.

If there's a concept here, it's film school obscure at best. It sure doesn't do the stuff that I like ads to do. It doesn't make me say, "Wow, I wish I'd done that." On the other hand, it's a beautiful thing to watch, and, I'll admit, pretty memorable and iconic. Side note: what's with all the elephant icons lately? So, it's not my cup of tea, and I doubt it'll make the short-list for a Gold Lion, but does it work? Well, for reasons I'm not sure I could explain succinctly, I really think it might.

Whether you agree or disagree about the spot, the point is that, as creative people, we often expect our clients to buy something that they personally don't like. "You're not the target," we say. "Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it's not going to work," we say. Then, as a group, we tend to turn right around and tear down spots that don't fit our personal taste or go beyond our comfort zone. At best, it's a hypocritical practice. At worst, we're missing an opportunity to stretch creatively.

So, try this: Look for concepts and approaches from across the mediascape that just aren't your style, the stuff you'd never author. Instead of dismissing them, delve into them to see what you can learn from them. Then bring that learning into your next concepting session and apply it to your personal process. You may just find yourself exploring new and fertile ground. 


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It's very intriguing, and fits in well with their overall branding and design concept...

i dig it

Too true.

Take it a step further: How do you create something you don't like, but is ideal for the client/audience/product?

I struggle with this, and would love some advice. Anyone?

Just put an elephant in it.

It definitely passes the DVR rewind test, but I feel like there's no payoff. It's interesting enough to watch, but not enough to make me watch it again...

David, it's a little hard to address your question not knowing exactly where you may be coming from, however, I personally think it's critical to like your ultimate audience first and foremost. If you like them, then you'll be pure at heart as you create, and you'll have some self-respect about the solution you arrive at. Believe it or not, it's okay to be practical ;-) If you don't like the audience however, then you should try to take yourself off the project.

I hear you, Paul. If I take my own advice, however, this spot does teach me something. I tend to write and celebrate stuff that's "talky." Making greater use of striking imagery is something that I should probably experiment with more.

great thoughts, and definately something we should all do to better understand and grow as "creatives"

Elephants know olives. Fact.

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