Breakthrough Creative

May 12, 2021
3 min read

“Fortes fortuna adiuvat” is a Latin phase which means “Fortune favors the bold” and is generally understood to mean that those who are willing to take risks will be rewarded with great results. While there is some evidence to suggest that taking a calculated risk can product better outcomes, we know that this is not always the case. For example, during the last Superbowl, in my opinion the most compelling and creative ad was the floating QR code for the crypto currency Coinbase. It was truly a unique and creative approach to Superbowl advertising. It played off the fact that humans are inherently curious and of course they are going scan a floating QR code with their phones. And millions of people did just that and this crashed the Coinbase app. Not exactly what you’d expect to see with an online trading platform. But you must recognize the courage and conviction of the creative team that presented this idea to the client at Coinbase and also the client that said, “this is brilliant, let’s do it”. They took a huge risk and baring the tech failure with the app, it was a major success to Coinbase’s brand recognition.

Of course, there are many truly successful examples of when a creative execution cut through the noise and becomes a standout ad or campaign. The ones that come to mind for me over the past 50 years would be Apple’s 1984 TV spot directed by Ridley Scott for Chiat/Day, DDB’s iconic campaigns for Volkswagen in the 1950’s and 60’s, Nikes “Just do it” campaign developed by Wieden & Kennedy, Ogilvy’s print campaign for IBM featuring the wonderfully clever illustrations of Noma Barr, The Absolut Vodka print campaigns first created by TBWA art director Geoff Hayes in 1981 that would continue for another 25 years with over 1,500 variations of the ad created and lastly Dos Equis “The most interesting man in the world” campaign developed by Euro RSCG (now Havas). And I know there are many more that I’m leaving out. But when you do the research and poke around at the origins of all this wonderful creative work, a few trends start to appear. Firstly, the creative briefs to the agency teams were wide open. No restrictions on tone, look and feel and in some cases even budget. The creative briefs were essentially “just come back with your wildest ideas. Don’t hold back”. Secondly, you had visionary band managers, CMO’s or CEO’s who trusted their creative agencies to such an extent, that they were willing to send them this type of creative brief. Thirdly, you had creative agency teams that knew they were taking a huge risk with these concepts, because they went against the stream of what others in their category were producing. But these creative teams were 100% sure the risk was worth taking and they had the backing of the client, so in their minds there was zero risk.

It seems to me that breakthrough creative doesn’t just happen out of thin air. There’s a formula to it. It starts when a great client matches with a great creative team. When the creative team understands the clients’ products so well that they feel comfortable challenging the client to think beyond their comfort zone. And when the client has the vision to recognize that taking that leap of faith with their creative team is a calculated risk worth taking. It starts and ends with the agency/client relationship. And the trust that exists between the two.

© 2024 Soubriet Byrne & Associates, Inc.