Secrets to creative campaigns

Have you ever looked at an outrageous fashion creation and said, ‘but who wears such things?’ 

I did. Until I started working on conceptualising creative campaigns for various initiatives, myself. Over the years, for storytelling I have gone from ‘let’s report this’ to ‘let’s get the craziest ideas first on how’. Simple reason for that, you can mellow down a crazy idea to make it creative enough to be effective, but to get a mellow idea anywhere close to being effective is just accepting mediocrity. 

Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy UK said, “Good creative work, like a good user experience, can make communications 10 to 11 times more effective.” Over years of experience I know this to be true. 

Here’s how to work on super effective, creative campaigns:

Prepare to get your ideas: Don the Sherlock Holmes hat for the ‘brief’ meeting

When an initiative is new, needs a mind-set change, culture-change or is run-of-the-mill and therefore requires the messaging to get the attention, a ‘brief’ meeting with the topic owner is a must. Don’t just ask the 4Ws (What, when, why and which). INVESTIGATE the topic and ask all possible Whys instead. Clearly understanding the objective is very important and knowing ‘Why are you doing this?’ ‘Why are you not doing that?’ ‘Why is this important now?’ ‘Why is this important to the people?’ ‘Why is this important to you?’ Gathering information and involving all your team mates in the meeting is very important. Ideas brew as as ask these questions and by the end of it, you will have aplenty to share with each other.

Don’t forget the most important Why: ‘Why is this important to me?’ – as a consumer of the information, as an employee and as a key stakeholder. As David Ogilvy once said, ‘The consumer isn’t a moron, she is your wife.’ 

Get the craziest ideas first 

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” Said David Ogilvy. I would add to that and say, make your thinking as crazy and outrageous as possible, but definitely funny and humorous. First you laugh at it and see the opportunity in it. Brainstorm and jot down all great ideas, they never go for waste. I have used ideas which have come for one campaign and used for quite another. 

Tone it down, tone it up

If you work in a corporate like I do, choose a tone for the campaign to suit your organisation, the culture, strategy and the people. No matter the topic, staid or informational you can decide the tone – should it be comical, funny, witty or catchy. For me ‘tone’ also captures flavours – seasonal, local, international, relatable. The tone helps to narrow down the ideas so well that you could be looking at that one idea which will be an exact fit.

Concept first, headline first

I am a visual person, I see the creative first and headline then comes easily. For some, the headline comes first, especially for copy writers. And this is why having the whole creative team in the meeting is important. It’s a breeding ground for creating, creative people. First, a concept person complements the writers and vice-versa and later, you cannot differentiate these two skilled people ☺.  

What about design?

Well, what about it. Here I will quote the legend of our times, Steve Jobs, “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” In a creative campaign design is amalgamation of the look, feel, brand application, flow, sequence of all the elements we use. 

Finally, why is creative communications important?

Because as a big fan of David Ogilvy, I’ll repeat him again, ‘If it’s not creative, it won’t sell.’ In the cacophony, a real, creative idea always stands out.

Now when I see a crazy fashion idea, I always look at the creative expression of the designer or the artist and their ability to think beyond the ordinary that makes you look up and take notice.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Ira Pradhan on LinkedinIra Pradhan on Twitter
Ira Pradhan
Ira is a Corporate Communications Leader with experience in Healthcare, Consumer Electronics, IT, Retail and the Automotive industry. She hails from the small and beautiful state of Sikkim and considers herself a complete Mountain Girl.

In a career spanning over a decade as a communications expert, she has championed and led programs on several sustainable business practices, diversity and inclusion programs.

She loves to read literature, and books on management and development in technology and economics. She mentors young women students & entrepreneurs in her home state, Sikkim.

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