Be Creative, Already!

by Ad 2 Tampa Bay | February 20, 2015

Are you creative? You probably answered yes because, hey, we are in advertising and we like to think that we are. But are you really creative? I’m serious – do you think you are? Just kidding, you definitely are special!

The problem with creativity is that the majority of people, especially those outside of advertising, think that you either have it or you don’t. Often, the notion is that creativity is some sort of a sacred talent, only available to the few “Don Drapers” who knock out award winning advertising campaigns like nobody’s business.

The truth is, it’s not like that. Creativity can be learned! People tend to think that creativity is a talent, rather than a skill, because it’s hard. The blank sheet struggle is real. Remember those days in college when you had to write some sort of a creative essay and did seven loads of laundry instead?

Luke Sullivan, the author of one of the best advertising and copywriting books “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This”, likens the creative process to washing a pig. “It’s messy; it has no rules, no clear beginning, middle, or end; it’s kind of a pain in the ass, and when you’re done, you’re not sure if the pig is clean or even why you were washing a pig in the first place.”

Don’t fret! There are many ways to crack the “creative code”, add structure to the ambiguous process of creation, and negate the possible frustration associated with it.

There is a five step creative process described in the book “A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young, an ex Vice President of J. Walter Thompson, one of the original Madison Avenue agencies now known as JWT, that can help you crack the code. First, the creation process starts with research (shocker); some people refer to it as creative preparedness. Make sure you are honest with yourself – spending six minutes on Wikipedia is not research. One needs to really get immersed in the problem and the product to create a truly big idea. Second is digestion. Probably the most challenging part, since it actually requires thinking. Take the information in, think it over, wrestle with it, play with it, do other weird things with it, as long as it’s legal. Now, the third and easy part: incubation. Turn it over to your subconscious mind to do the work. Some people say physical activity helps this process. Personally for me, the magic often happens in the shower. Fourth, illumination, the idea is born! Now you should be ready to coldheartedly evaluate the idea and shape it to practical usefulness, which is the final and fifth step.

Didn’t work? Do it again! Remember, it’s all about the routine. Find your own process, experiment, share with others and you’ll be able to develop super innovative ideas!

Dmitrii Osipovskii | Public Service Director