No two minds are the same. Two people, with the same creative brief, will produce very different campaigns. This is because ideas don’t materialize out of nowhere. They come from what has been read, experienced and observed every day.
Also, some people are more creative than others, because they exercise creative thinking more often. The creative power of the brain is like a muscle: the more it flexes, the stronger it becomes and the faster ideas emerge.
Many of the techniques art directors and copywriters use to create advertisements are techniques borrowed from fiction writing, film, and theater. Books on these topics make good background reading.
It is imperative to have a good selection of industry and art advertising books in the office. Get some copies of D&AD and special readings like Alastair Crompton Copyright Crafts.
Here are some techniques you can use to strengthen your campaign creativity, improve brand awareness, and campaign response rate.
Keep it simple and stupid
KISS. Keep it simple and stupid. Express the idea in a small space. We have a post-it note, we have a napkin. If you can’t express your idea in a specific diagram or sentence, you probably don’t have an idea. At most, it can have multiple unrelated parts.
What many marketers find difficult to evaluate are ideas in their infancy. Without the idea rendered with finished images, they are not able to visualize how far the idea can go, or how far a campaign can be run. However, evaluating ideas without polishing too much is an advantage.
Allow concepts to surface and good ideas to shine.
Cover territories – own spaces
The more ideas you can generate, the more areas or territories you can cover. It is not enough to come up with a few disparate ideas. Instead, creatives assign ideas to spaces or territories. They identify these territories based on customer insights, research, and simple intuition.
An idea may be good, but is it strategically located in the right territory? Choosing the right campaign can be a matter of finding the right idea, in the most fertile territory.
Creatives look for new territories or new ways to view existing territories. Otherwise, your ideas are not original and lack impact.
Make your idea a campaign
Creatives and clients loathe campaign ideas that can’t scale across different media. These require too much exposure and all too often only work on television.
Marketers should look for campaign ideas that can work not only on television wealth, but also in tight space billboards. Otherwise, they lose important points of contact.
Turn it around
During the brainstorming session, clients and agencies often complain that they “have the same ideas.” This may be because the group is afraid to challenge the thinking, or the group is repressing ideas that sound absurd at face value.
Unless the group is prepared to take “off-road” paths, brainstorming sessions will produce the same results every time. Participants must put aside their fears and criticisms, and turn their thoughts around.
If automakers always advertise their cars with four wheels, try an idea featuring the car without wheels. These are the kinds of ideas that challenge consumers and lead to free press coverage.
By incorporating a “what if” exercise during brainstorming, you can increase the volume of ideas and the effectiveness of the group. In such a way that the sum of the parts contributed by the group is greater than any contribution of a single mind.
Direct headline, quirky visual
The basic ingredients of a print campaign are a headline and an image. Creating an ad that features a quirky image and quirky headline typically results in an ad that’s too weird for the audience to interpret. Likewise, if the title and image are straight, the ad feels literal and doesn’t provide an ‘ahhha’.
To strike the right balance, it seems like you need equal parts of the literal and the weird in the ad. It is worth mentioning that not all ads have both a title and an image. Some are just visual and some are just a title.
Is the title the same as the visual?
Junior creatives often make the mistake of creating ads with a title and visuals that say the same thing. Next to it is an example. This creativity is not working very hard. Both the headline and the visual say the same thing.
Instead, try putting an unrelated title and visual together on the page. Separately, they don’t mean much, but when put together, they become a puzzle for the audience to solve.
Intelligent? Or too smart?
The debate over “smart” advertising never ceases. Smart ads run the risk of your audience missing the point entirely. In contrast, unconvincing ads go unnoticed.
Both statements are correct. Unconvincing ads lack impact. And being too smart will isolate everyone but the panel of judges from the awards. The medium, the brand, and the creativity all need to be weighed to produce the desired effect.
For example, a piece for EPURON, designed to be a viral video, could be considered too clever. The idea works on multiple levels, personifying the wind and requiring the audience to see it twice. You have to look at it to get it.
If it were a TVC, asking the audience to watch it twice is almost impossible. However, given the fact that the creative was meant to be a viral YouTube video (so it can be played more than once), the nifty element works to its advantage to make it more viral.
Reference hot topics
Ads can take advantage of the context of the public domain that is current. Sports, religion, politics, sex – these are all fertile places to tap into referrals. Building an idea around a current issue can be very powerful and often controversial.
Humor, pranks, jokes, rewards
Humor is the joke, the joke, the reward: these are good techniques to keep the public reading. Please note that most advertising is interrupted. Compensating consumers by making them smile is the least we can do for interrupting them.
Ideas featuring jokes that are really funny can get you a lot of love and mileage. In fact, the funniest tend to offend some segment of society.
When displaying humor, make sure it is fun and connected to the brand. Otherwise, the gag will be remembered, but the mark will be quickly forgotten.
For some industries, such as the fight against smoking, it has been statistically shown that actual people who die from smoking-related cancer are more shocking than other techniques. They lose impact value. What was shocking today is mundane tomorrow.
This forces advertisers to look for the next shocking stat or visual. It is not easy to maintain these campaigns in the long term.
Word games and visual word games
These were once very popular techniques. There was a time when you could flip through a magazine and almost every page included a play on words.
The smartest word games are not created as a title, but rather are expressed as a visual element. These are called visual word games. Most creative people agree that puns should be avoided.
Word games are risky. At their heart, there is often no central idea and therefore they are a threat to the campaign.
Word games are really a last resort.
Juxtaposition is achieved when the two dipole images are brought together. Take, for example, the faces of two coaches of rival soccer teams; or a cheap car and a luxury car. These are two extremes that share a common relationship, but they are very different. Together they create a striking visual appearance. Their extreme differences give birth to a new meaning when placed side by side.
Juxtaposition can be helpful in challenging a stereotype and changing opinions.
Metaphors and hyperbole
Metaphors are one of the most common storytelling techniques. It’s no wonder advertisers use them so often. Metaphors borrow from a construct that the audience understands, to explain another construct about which they have little knowledge.
For example, plugs can be a metaphor for sexuality.
Metaphors can also be hyperbole. Hyperbole is a deliberate exaggeration to achieve an emotional effect. The effect is intentional and the audience is not expected to take the hyperbole literally.
Irony is a mode of expression that draws attention to the discrepancy between two levels of knowledge. The definition of irony, in the simplest form, is the difference between what someone would reasonably expect to happen and what actually happens. Which means that something that happens that you would not even reasonably expect to happen is considered irony.
Alliteration is a series of repeated consonant sounds, occurring at the beginning of words or within words. Alliteration is used to create melodies, set the mood, draw attention to important words, and point out similarities and contrasts. They appear in headlines, slogans, and campaign titles.
Alliteration makes a phrase sound a bit catchier and more memorable.
Sticky is normally what you get when one or a combination of the above works really well. You end up with an ad that is talked about and written. An ad campaign that goes sticky goes viral. Without much intervention or media expense, the audience transmits and shares the idea, many times modifying it and making it their own.
This recent TVC from Heineken, combined several techniques covered in this article and nailed it.