Sunday, August 22, 2010

Research meet instinct. Now fight.

Whenever a new campaign is underway, there's a power struggle between instinct and research. It's not a situation where instinct and research enter a room and only one leaves. There are not (usually) any 'whimsical intuition' versus 'concrete research' angry-dance-offs. They have to coexist. However, their percentage of concept ownership is a moving target.

Seth Godin posted some thoughts on using internal monologue in marketing. Figuring out how we decide is important in determining how our audience decides. Mixing this introspection with targeted research is the idea. More importantly, we have to consider who the audience wants to be.

And just because a campaign is working now, doesn't mean it won't need to evolve with the audience. Instinct plays heavily into the category-reinvention direction. If instinct comes through, it throws reigning competitive leaders into a frenzy to catch up.

Make sure you do your initial research, but then put it aside for a moment. Look at things with a fresh perspective. Take the established category rules away. Ask "why?" and "what if?" And listen to the voice* inside your head. 

*Note I said voice, singular. If 'voice' happens to be plural for you, don't listen to those. Just kidding. But no, really.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Advertising. For better or worse.

So you want to succeed in advertising? Well, there's just one thing that's essential beyond mind-blowing talent. Something you can't learn in school. The thing that makes you take an unpaid internship just for the chance to briefly be mentored by a creative genius. A crazy obsession with ideas and cultures. Maybe even psychology. A need to be surrounded by others who share this inspiration/addiction.

You have to love it.

Now don't get me wrong, a career in advertising is like any relationship. It's a spontaneous roller coaster. Euphoric and uncertain. You'll laugh. You'll cry. Sometimes at the same time. There are days you will hate it. Times when ideas get killed or, for whatever reason, are not possible. But, deep down, you know you will love it again. More than you did before.

There will be moments when you'll question your creative worthiness. Other times you'll experience a knee-weakening adrenaline rush. Swooning over a new creative brief. Drunk with what could be. What will be.

It can consume your thoughts. Your dreams. Your life. But, you won't mind. Because you love it. And, on most days, that's enough.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Solitude theft.

I started this post a while back after reading about the inherent value of solitude and its effect on the creative process. Originally, it was written on a day spent somewhere inside my head. A place I frequently visit, but rarely set up camp within for a full-on society sabbatical.

I accidentally deleted the draft. Who knows where I was going with it, but I remember complete solitude felt like a guilty pleasure that day. A borrowed introspective indulgence.

There were a million things I could have been doing. Should have been doing. But wasn't.

Instead, I was reflecting on life while retreating from actively living it. Some people fear alone time, but it's something I periodically seek. Apparently, it's just one of the quirks that goes along with being highly sensitive. Many creatives are. Inevitably, we must learn how to leverage the virtues and manage the challenges.

I used to assume I was just shy sometimes. Moving to small towns and being deemed "the new girl," was a bit overwhelming. A somewhat introverted person's worst nightmare is the idea that they are being judged. Too much attention. Cue the anxiety.

I hated the shy tendencies and would do anything possible to overcome them. Pushing myself to excel in sports and grasping leadership opportunities. The older I got, the easier it became. Although, my bold interior personality may never match my calm exterior personality.

The real issue – I was overstimulated by everything. Processing too much from external and internal worlds. Total surrounding awareness amplified beyond normal maintenance levels. It was physically and emotionally exhausting.

Here is where down time and solitude come into play. Highly-sensitive creatives can take everything they have over-experienced – reflect on it, learn from it, and then release a new perspective back into the wild.

“Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous — to poetry.” – Thomas Mann 
Somewhere in my busy schedule, I'll continue to take solitude when I find it. Even if it's just for a moment and I have to give it back after I'm done.

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