Zietgiest or not to zietgiest?


Fashion is a funny thing, it comes and goes then comes back again. It has been said by men greater than me that art can only be a product of the now, because to replicate an artistic style is to do just as described ‘replicate’; you can’t do anything original which is not a product of the here and now.

Art therefore can capture the zitegiest… although perhaps only for the artist

So if I get asked to launch or reposition a brand and it looks spot on the money…. its contemporary and captures the mood of the moment, what do I ask myslef..? ..has this brand got a short shelf life” … ‘will the customer get value”.

Well in short YES.. and I have to explain to the client that cool is just part  of the matrix, if it is in at all.  That’s why brand over-reaches the campaign and we refresh the brand.

I agree with Tolstoy – yeah the Russian Count, author, father of 11 and writer of War and Peace… he said that Leaders were not appointed as the result of their individual charecteristics, but in fact find themsleves in the right time and place – they were elevated to greatness by virtue of some cultural and socio-cognitive fit.

If the aforementioned leader was a brand or a thought leadership paper you have to think –  Is it the genius of the item or the willingness of the populous to propagate and spread your word that makes it leading.

We call extreme cases of social fit driving distribution “Viral” … and who does’t want to trend.

I think what I’m trying to say is ” Do I have to dress cool, grow a beard, have an iphone 5 and know the buzz words in ord to be memorable as far as my personal brand is concerned.”

I don’t think so…

The way I see it is that brands change, like people, they live in the moment they are viewed, they reinvent themselves and mature, once in the consciousness… And design has always got to be fresh.

It is worth thinking about why we do things, if we understand the language of thinking and how we perceive and process things ourselves then we better understand how others do it too.



Creative smelling salts


Ever found yourself asking what it is fair to pay for a moment of absolute clarity, being infused with confidence or to be put on the right path – I only did it once… That said it was the ‘only’ time I had a moment of clarity and conceived a creative solution without serious thought.

Ever since then I have had to try and find ways to stimulate, crystallise, distill, condense and elucidate spontaneously. It simply doesn’t happen by itself even if as a marketing person you pretend it does…. more over nor should it.

Creativity is the thin veneer which separates the pragmatic marketeer from the successful one. The creative idea has to overlay insight, data, brand-provenance and desired outcome…Processing that stuff can put one in such a cerebral malaise that the creative, aesthetic and artistic bit that ties it all together is lost in a fog of information. But thats why there are two types of creative business: the design business and the creative solutions business. You want to get known for being in the latter.

I’ve often wondered how the really clever folk, the entrepreneurs, top flight lawyers and accountants find their own moment of clarity and if they have techniques for processing huge amounts of information before providing the solution.

Here are just a few slightly unusual things I have tried:

The midnight drive to the seaside with my research to sit and stare at the sea, illuminated by the lights from the shoreside entertainment before realising that we mark the time with seasons and that the advertising campaign could be emotive by virtue of triggering memories of moments in time.

Total silence – providing a moment of sensory deprivation in which you can only hear the words in your head as you ask yourself what to advise the client. Its amazing how many voices you can put in your own head at once like this…. although saying that makes me feel schizophrenic.

The null-hypothesis – What would Iadvise them NOT to do. What could go wrong?
Don’t try this its bad for the soul – and well, if statistics mean nothing to you then anything can go wrong.

The call to a more removed soul – Can someone else solve this or catalyse my thinking. Charles Saatchi doesn’t often take my calls these days though.

So in short – if the moment of clarity creates results, feels like it comes out of the blue and is based on inspiration the truth is it probably isn’t. Its the product of hours of digesting information, challenging thinking and doodles. Its years of investing in brands, an understanding of how demographs react to media and the 2 hours spent in silence, in the car, doing the logic or staring at the sea.

Being a creative is not all that much fun – its our job to make it feel that way. We just have to find our our own smelling salts to switch on the receptors and inspire a unique and absolute moment of clarity.