Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.56 - How To Know If You've 'Really' Got An Idea



What does it feel like to have an idea?

The cliche is it's "like a light bulb going on in your head."

In 'A Smile In The Mind', David Stuart describes feeling an "absence", before the arrival of an idea.

For me, it's like a form of electric shock in my brain and (for some reason) my arms and occasionally chest. That sounds dramatic, but sometimes it's very mild. The severity of the shock seems to correspond to how 'big' the idea is.

Whatever it's like for you, you always know when you've had one.

And in an ideal world, you would never present anything that didn't result from one of these light-bulb or brain-storm moments.

But this isn't an ideal world. Time is a problem - you often have to present something "in two days" rather than when you've had a great idea. It could be a crap brief, or a brief you just don't click with... on some briefs, you may never have an idea.

So you may end up presenting several 'ideas', none of which actually have an idea in them.

Oh well. Needs must. And you've got to have something, so that something can be discussed in the meeting.

That's okay. As long as you're honest with yourself.

If you haven't had that feeling, you haven't had an idea. And in my opinion, it's worth working on until you do, rather than spending time polishing an idea-less idea that if it gets made could very well end up being a... well, a you know what.


P.S. the tendency seems to be for people to have lots and lots of ideas at the beginning of their careers, and fewer and fewer as the years go on; the compensation for this decline is that more of your later-years ideas will be 'right'. Does this chime with your experience?

Previous Tips:

How To Use Social Media; How To Get The Best Out Of Directors; Don't Write Ads, Write Strategies; How To Choose Where To Work; Working Outside London; What Would John Webster Do?; What Would Paul & Nigel Do?; The Hidden Flaw; How To Write Copy; Be Funny All The Way Through; How To Do Virals; How To Negotiate Your Salary; How To Get A Pay Rise; Be Wary Of Punding; Challenge The Brief; Tell The Truth; Playing To Lose; How To Write Headlines; How To Do Direct; How To Do Radio; How To Do Press; How To Do TV; How To Do Digital; How To Do Posters; Look At Weird Shit; Presenting To The Client; Presenting To The Team; Presenting To The Creative Director; How To Deal With Rejection; Look Creative; Don't Be Afraid To Ask; Your Idea Has To Be 120%; Read Iain's Tips; Don't Behave; How To Discuss Ideas; Read Hugh's Tips; How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job; How To Turn A Placement Into A Job (Ed Morris view); How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7); How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together; How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ; Make Friends With Traffic; Get Reference; Don't Stop Too Soon; Be Very; Breaking Up; Working Well With Your Partner; Finding The Right Partner; How To Approach Agencies; Never-Seen-Before Footage; Dicketts' Finger; Two Blokes In The Pub; Play Family Fortunes; Should You Take A Bad Job?; Don't Overpolish

68 comments:

This Is Us said...

but what if the clientr isn't having the same reaction as you do to an idea?

ormiston groove said...

electrocute the client
you could vary the voltage according to the strength of the idea

Radovan Gre┼żo said...

then your idea is known to be what we call here "dead".
in my opinion getting bought says nothing about the quality of an idea. it can still be great or bad. only you decide.

PH said...

I had a similar situation here last week. We had a day to come up with the idea. We didn't get the nervous belly feeling. Idea we had was just OK. So we went with it 'cos we didn't have a choice. Funnily enough, we didn't win the pitch :-(

Anonymous said...

Er, the client never will as he didn't come up with it. That's why you need to sell it most of the times.

Scamp, I love this post. I think however that this brain tickle, chest pain, etc feeling I experience is sometimes very misleading. Sometimes I get that feeling, go home thinking I really have something there, get to work the next morning only to find out it's actually the visual is not working, the line is confusing, etc
But then everything did make perfect sense before! It's very frustrating. How to be sure then?

Hope you can get what you mean from my rambling.

I'm not Wal said...

Hi Scamp, great post but the thing is, how do I get there!?

You've mentioned how to do TV, Radio, Print, etc but what about tackling just the strategy/idea part? (Next tuesday tip request?)

Some of us juniors (who don't work at fallon btw) struggle with just getting it started so it'd be good to know how the pros do it. If anyone else has some advice on the matter, please comment! and make it soon cos we have review at 7 and it's doing our head in!

Seriously, I'm not wal.

Anonymous said...

Simple.

1. Decide what you want to say.

2. Decide how you want to say it.

Best advice i've ever heard.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that's very ambiguous.
is it you wal?

Scamp said...

Anon 1.45 - sadly, this tip only discusses whether you have had a 'real' idea, and does not discuss whether it's 'right' or not. Maybe that's one for the future.

Anonymous said...

fair enough, mate.
thanks for your reply.

Anonymous said...

I dunno Scamp, i think sometimes when your not sure about something or it makes you feel a bit scared - its then that you can have something really fresh.

sometimes i have a ta-da! moment, it ends up being not that good after the morning after test.

its just not an exact science is it?

Anonymous said...

A creative director
once said to me -
"It's doesn't make my bum go in and out"
(bad)

conversely
"I'm getting hard"
(good)

All I deduce from this is
that a good idea should excite you
and others too.



or he was a total perv.

Wal said...

bogusky calls it an AHA moment, there is a speech where he talks about the effects and dangers of it, have a listen:

http://creativeinlondon.blogspot.com/2007/06/bogusky-creativity-and-haircut.html

Anonymous said...

Haha, that Trevor kills me.

Cedrick Matushevsky said...

When you have something fresh it might scare the others but not yourself. Something fresh is just that great feeling scamp wrote about. You know you haven't seen something like that before, you know it's good ... tadaaa ... great feeling.

and to "this is us" from the first comment: well, that's when the "sweat"-part of that "1% talent, 99% sweat"-phrase starts.

thank you. may I suggest that everyone uses the linked website to stop this unfriendly anonymous culture. no? well, then anonymously fuck you.

Tony said...

wal:
all I know you're not getting enough of those. Get back to work!

Dan said...

Tony:
Shouldn't you get back to work, as well? Not so many AHAs over the last months from my Londoners...

Scamp said...

Wal, nice speech from Alex B. Thanks for the link

Dave Trott said...

Helmut Krone said "If you can look at something and say 'I like it.' then it isn't new.

Gordon Comstock said...

Scamp - you do not mention the feeling following the AHA! moment, which is, "I've seen this somewhere before." I think this feeling has two possible causes:

1. You've said something that is so right and true, that it's as though it's always existed only in a heretonow unarticulated form.

2. You've seen it somewhere before.

God said...

You're such a dictator, Dan.
Let the guys have their fun.

Not you, Wal.
Thou shall not blog until the end of times. Or just until your placement's over, whatever happens first.

Anonymous said...

When I have a big idea, i get the overwhelming urge for a big poo poo.

Am I alone?

DeBontjas said...

if you think the idea is good, there's a big chance other people will think so to

Anonymous said...

I know people who just believe wholeheartedly that anything they do is brilliant. Any old piece of shit, if it came out of their brains then it is automatically good.

Me I think that advertising is like sex, if it's difficult or painful then you're doing it wrong. Got that from some author in the Independent but it chimed with my experience. Clients however think exactly the opposite. Knobs.

Nosey said...

> I know people who just believe
> wholeheartedly that anything they do
>is brilliant.

are u talking about fallon's juniors?

Anonymous said...

Great - lets get back to Fallon again

Anonymous said...

does anyone know if its true that steve henry has just joined fallon as a junior?

Anonymous said...

You know when you've got a good idea, because the account team then demand two more routes. Just to 'show the client that the agency's been working hard'.

But if you only come up with an average idea in the beginning, they seem strangely happy with that one route to present.

Anonymous said...

anon 4.39
what a great spot - very true

fearless said...

4:33
Fallon is a permanent topic in this blog apparently so let's just live with it.

Scamp said...

In case anyone is interested in what Alex Bogusky has to say on this subject, but doesn't have time to listen to his full speech, which Wal linked to, the gist of it is that he sees creativity as a process, not a moment.

In fact, Alex distrusts the 'Aha!' moment. He says that using the intensity of your light bulb to judge the quality of your idea is "like using an orgasm to work out whether you're in love."

Anonymous said...

Nobody is loving Alex lately, it's just cheap sex.

Anonymous said...

That A-HA moment is probably much overrated (though Take On Me is still okay if you're pissed drunk).

In my case it normally means i suggest something and my art director doesn't immediately go 'yeah, sure. Or...'

Now, how you spot a good idea. If you find yourself going 'That's so simple and right it surely must have been done before?' And you find out that it really hasn't been; then it's probably a good idea. Assuming of course that you're not totally self-deluded.

Anonymous said...

alex b. distrusts the A-ha! moment? based on cpb's recent output he might want to reconsider that. process never went viral alex. not being bitchy, they just haven't been killing it lately.

previous anon 6:39 is right. you have to surprise yourself first and foremost. great ideas are fundamentally great. they're different in way that almost feels wrong. they're a departure. which is why they can be tough to sell.

larry bird said...

Anon 8.23

Name us 5 other agencies that are 'killing it' right now then?

Please

Anonymous said...

TBWA NY, Saatchi NY, BBDO NY, and then Droga5 twice cos they're fucking hot right now Fallon can only taste David's dust.

Anonymous said...

Are Droga5 hiring right now?

Anonymous said...

David?

Anonymous said...

yes?

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone left at TBWA NY?

Anonymous said...

if anyone finds anything in this massive echoing navel could they write it in UPPER CASE?

Anonymous said...

tbwa NY is an empty shell once again. all the talent has flown post-graf.

and the cpb nike work was embarrassing.

previous commenter needs to love advertising more!

Anonymous said...

OKEEFE has resigned. this IS the new campaign.

Anonymous said...

not true

Anonymous said...

Scamp for new ECD/chief blogger.

Seb said...

Forget the speech, this is Alex Bogusky's true secret to great ideas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWzGB3QBRUk

Anonymous said...

anyway, lets get back on topic.... whats happening at fallon?

Anonymous said...

scamp, what's the scoop?

Anonymous said...

word on the street is that hes joined fallon as a junior.

Anonymous said...

I'd buy it previous anon but I he doesn't fit the job description.

To be a junior at fallon you have to be incredibly arrogant yet haven't accomplished anything worth mentioning. Mr O'Keeffe misses the mark by a mile.

Hats off to a great CD.
Two fingers to arrogant juniors.

Anonymous said...

why does everyone love fallon juniors so much? has someone/someones had bad experiences?

Anonymous said...

The thing is, dear 10:23 AM anon
I could expect someone with the profile of Fintham, Cabral, Allison or Bovill or any of them to be cunts and they aren't. They're all really sweet blokes. Maybe Flintham is a bit more difficult but still you have to respect the man.

Most fallon juniors think just because they've been given the opportunity to write ASDA or Eurostar radios, they should behave as if they came up with gorilla. Pathetic.

(if you are reading this, you'll know I'm talking about you, mate)

Anonymous said...

Are you sulking Scamp?

Anonymous said...

hi 10.25anon, this is 10.30 anon.

ive not gone for a crit with fallon juniors (only one middlew and seniors) ... but they all seemed ok to me. some juniors kept to themselves/werent very talkative at all but hey.there are only like one or two junior teams there anyway

Anonymous said...

sorry, above is me 10.23 anon talking to 10.35 anon

Anonymous said...

11:00 AM anon, not talking about crits.

Anonymous said...

Speaking about Campaign. I just read Persil just kicked off 'Roboboy".

But didn't roboboy won a bronze lion at cannes this year? How could it win if it they're just launching it, Scam?

Don't tell me other agencies' fogginess is wrong but yours is ok?

Scamp said...

Roboboy has already run in many countries, but is only now launching in the UK.

Anonymous said...

BBH unveils new Persil campaign

by Staff Campaign 14-Jul-08, 14:25

LONDON - Bartle Bogle Hegarty has launched its first TV ad to kick off the global campaign for Persil's "Dirt is Good" strategy.

The 60-second ‘Roboboy' ad, which breaks today, stars a sad robot, who gradually transforms into a boy, after playing outside and splashing around in a muddy pool during a rainstorm.

It ends with the strapline "Every child has the right to be a child. Dirt is Good."

Anonymous said...

BBH are so busted!

Anonymous said...

BBH are so busted!
Not really, but it feels great to write sumffin like that.

Scamp said...

Calm down, Campaign just missed out a word or two from their press release, that's all.

They should have written "Bartle Bogle Hegarty has launched its first TV ad to kick off the global campaign for Persil's "Dirt is Good" strategy IN THE UK"

Dirt is Good, as everybody knows, has been running globally for some time - in fact it was originated in Brazil.

Roboboy itself has been running globally for over 9 months now.

Anonymous said...

And here we were all thinking, O'Keefe had been given the boot for that ugly offense.

O Brigado.

Anonymous said...

Scamp, now that he's not your boss.
Was O'Keefe as tough as they say? or was he just very determined and decisive - namely a bad mf?

Scamp said...

O'Keeffe thread is the next one above this.

Anonymous said...

fallon

Anonymous said...

dirt is good was actually written at lowe by none other than the mighty vince squibb.
it was then scurrilously given to jwt by the client.
and has since been gobbled up by bbh.

Matt said...

In my opinion, our shit filters get better as we age.

Early in the career, the excitement of the idea and moment were most-likely due to just being happy someone is paying you to sit around in comfortable clothes and make shit up.