In an August, 2014 interview with Lego chief executive Jorgen Vig Knudstrop published in UK broadsheet The Guardian, Knudstrop quoted Billung – a small town in Jutland and headquarters to the famous toymaker – as being “boring”. Yet he goes on to credit those very surroundings as the thing that helped spark Lego’s innovation, and subsequent turnaround: “Many creative people are finding that creativity doesn’t grow in abundance, it grows from scarcity”.
There’s a virtuous lesson in that one statement alone. For many Marketers, the creative process is a critical component of how we get to express the values of a brand in ways that are novel and engaging. But one of the many challenges of fostering creative thinking is how to protect originality from the dizzying array of visual and verbal influences that constantly surround us. The nature of having such heightened stimulation means that unintended reference points inadvertently creep into the work itself. This may be an inevitable outcome, as to paraphrase the infamous words of Mark Twain, there’s no such thing as a truly original idea. But should we be abandoning the pursuit of thought innovation, just because there’s no shortage of material to readily ‘borrow’ from? I would hope not, as we’d otherwise become an industry awash with lazy ideas, devoid of any ingenuity. Most importantly, we’d miss out on the opportunity to capture hearts and minds.
Luckily we have institutions like Channel 4. For the benefit of readers outside the UK, Channel 4 has been a major player on terrestrial TV since they began broadcasting in the 1980s, and is known for commissioning groundbreaking, original ideas. The latest in a long line of cutting edge programs is ‘Humans’, billed as a futuristic suburban utopia, where synthetic humanoids co-habitat among us. It’s not the genre that is especially unique, as the subject matter has been tackled numerous times before. But how the broadcaster’s in-house creative agency has pulled together an integrated audience engagement strategy that’s taken social by storm. From the eerie teaser commercial, experiential ‘mock’ storefront, to the sterile website for Persona Synthetics, there’s much to provoke interest and capture the imagination.
Creativity may indeed grow from scarcity, but as the Humans campaign demonstrates, being creative isn’t just confined to the conventional notion of discovering something unknown. In the context of modern marketing, it can simply involve breathing a new lease of life into old ideas that once put together cleverly, produces something that’s actually worth talking about.
Image credit: Channel 4