Sir Ken Robinson, tells the following story: “A secretary of state for education in the U.K once said the trouble with creativity is of course that you cannot define it, to which I responded no, I think the trouble is that you cannot define it.” This for me is a universal problem when it comes to creativity, isn’t it? We have an idea of what it is, and occasionally refer to someone as creative, but we never really think of what makes someone more creative than someone else, and if we can define creativity, why can’t we also teach it?
So What is Creativity?
According to Sir Ken Robinson “creativity is the process of having original ideas which have value”. I think however we can do a bit better than that don’t you? To me, creativity can be defined as the continuous process of creating original ideas or actions that have and add relevant value.
When really looking at this statement we can see it consists out of three parts or stages. Firstly, I think we can all agree that creativity is not something that comes in the form of a onetime burst – that would be luck.
Creativity is a continuous process of thinking differently; and finding (but not limited to) the simplest most original solution to problems, regularly. Much like running a marathon once wouldn’t classify you as being fit, being creative once wouldn’t classify you as being creative either.
Secondly creativity is not simply about generating ideas, because this is simply writing down or saying what you are thinking. Creativity is not relaying your thought process to others, it’s the process of relaying thoughts or making an action which are original and have meaning. Mind you, this is where it gets slightly tricky, because originality also comes from building on thoughts or actions which may not be relevant or original at the time.
This is where the last part of the definition comes in, namely that ideas or actions must “have or add relevant value”. There is a reason why every successful entrepreneur says the key to success is to fail and fail again. Without failure you cannot separate the original ideas from the non original ones, and sometimes the only way to know is to try them out. Being able to then see where you can add relevant value, which leads to originality is, according to the definition above, creativity.
Yes really. But let’s put the above definition of creativity to the test anyway. Droga5 is one of the most awarded ad agencies in the world, and unlike others, hasn’t even been around for ten years. How can a new comer like Droga5 beat agencies who have been in the game for decades? Is it because they hire the best creative talent out there? And if it’s a purely creative matter, it must mean that since 2006 they have been producing creative work as “a continuous process of creating original ideas or actions that have and add relevant value”.
The Tap Project:
This campaign was voted as one of the top15 ad campaigns of the past decade. What makes this idea so creative, I feel, is that it can be explained in less characters than a tweet: By ordering (normally free) tap water at a restaurant you donate $1 to Unicef, which provides a child with drinking water for 40 days.
Is the idea original? For decades charities have been using the same methods and emotional appeals to try gather donations for good causes. These usually entail showing starving children or polluted drinking water as is expected of any advertising message of this kind. Droga5 instead shifted the focus, to target the consumer at a point where they were already spending money without really focussing on emotional appeals. The focus was rather on relevance.
So does the idea add relevant value? You bet. Donating to a cause is done out of goodwill. But donating to the very thing you are enjoying a glass of, and which normally would be given away for free is what gives value to the idea. The consumer is all of a sudden presented with an option of not ordering tap water vs. bottled water but rather ordering bottled water vs. doing something good without feeling manipulated.
The campaign got $2.5million dollars in donations in New York alone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyjTg4w-J7A
Ecko: Still free
Ecko, as a fashion label had lost its street credit, which was what made the brand what it was. In this campaign Droga5 ‘leaked’ a video online of Ecko founder Marc Ecko spray painting graffiti on the president’s Air Force One airplane.
Is the idea Original? Yes, instead of acting like a fashion brand, Ecko acted like a rebellious street kid acting out when he’s voice isn’t heard.
Does the idea add relevant value? Oh yea. Ecko didn’t just graffiti anything, he was shown tagging the president, the ultimate symbol for authority in the USA, resurrecting Ecko’s street credit and boosting sales for years to come.
The campaign spent $0 on media and generated 113 million impression, and 3 publics denials by the pentagon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgmj1j2hZ6M
The Great Schlep:
Barack Obama’s campaign team realized that the deciding vote in the presidential elections would come down to Florida, but how do you convince a state where most people are Republicans to vote for a democrat? You go to Droga5. Solution? Target Jewish grandchildren.
Florida has a very large elderly, Jewish community who support the republican party, whereas most younger Jewish Americans are democrats. The campaign pleaded with Jewish grandchildren to ask their grandparents to vote Obama in the upcoming campaign in exchange for a visit from their favourite grandchild.
Is the idea Original? It adds a personal touch to political campaigning, and taps into th strong sense of family in Jewish culture. Oh and this is linked to voting for America’s first black president; original indeed.
Does the idea add relevant value? The campaign isn’t simply asking for votes as most political ads do, it connects people and changes political views not through persuasion but through a visit from your grandchild.
The campaign generated 350million media impressions and Obama won the election. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgHHX9R4Qtk
Droga5 has since worked on numerous campaigns and has been in the global top 10 list year after year. As we can see, their creativity is consistent, it combines originality and action and does so in a simple way that places value and relevance first. I’m not sure about you, but I think we’ve just defined what creativity is.
You might ask yourself, so, now what?
Blog 2 of 5: Thinking Different and What It
Means to be Creative