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What makes a good creative idea?

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When Isaiah Mustafa burst onto our screens in 2010 telling women he was the “man your man could smell like” did they believe him?  Damn right they did.

When he planted the seed that their man should be baking a gourmet cake in a dream kitchen he built with his own hands, did it make them think? Yep. (Especially when they looked over and observed their lazy, slightly overweight reality sitting on the sofa next to them).

This campaign was, quite frankly, genius. Not only because it created a character who was loved by ladies AND gentlemen, but because it made Old Spice smell good again. It was funny, insightful and screamed of knowing exactly who its core target audience was. Not the man himself, but his better half.

That’s the thing about a powerful creative idea. It always tells a story. Lures you in. Makes you laugh. Shocks you. Brings a tear to your eye.

A good ad will make you think twice, but a great ad will make you feel something.

The very best campaigns ooze confidence, passion and intuitiveness. Creativity can come from anywhere and strike at any time. It doesn’t just have to come out of the creative department either. Anyone can be creative, people show it in many ways.

It’s my job to recognise a good idea when I see one. To help creatives keep going until they blow all the other ideas out of the park. I’ve often tried to explain the feeling I get when I see a killer idea.

But the truth is, you just know.

A good idea has legs. It can simply get up, walk out of the room and into whatever format you need it to. It’s effortless because it was born out of a great insight. The proposition in the creative brief was so tight, it gave the creatives exactly what they needed to get it right.

There’s nothing better than presenting a great idea to a client. It’s what we creatives live for, what makes us tick. The best client relationships I’ve ever had stemmed from trust. If a client trusts you to get it right, you will be free to explore the brief they way it should be explored. Too much information and you might feel overwhelmed. Too much analysing and you might overthink it. Getting the balance right isn’t easy, but I do believe the reason a client hires an agency is because they want to be told the best way to approach a problem. So, it’s our job to win their trust and build their confidence. And once you have that, it’s the best playground for creative gems to flourish.

Let’s go back to our friend Mustafa. One of the holy grails of advertising is how to translate a successful TV campaign into a huge viral phenomenon. In this case, the answer was simple. Get this ‘manly’ star to respond to tweets from consumers in real time on YouTube. Each 30 second video reply was funnier than the last. Each one continued to build on the customer-brand relationship. It was an extremely clever way of exposing Mustafa to the world, without overexposing him.

Eight years on, digital capabilities have moved on a little, but the sentiment remains. Conjure up a brilliant creative idea and it will morph itself into whatever form of advertising you need it to.

Creativity is soft, instinctive, and hard to measure. Because of this, the people who control the purse strings have put an increasing focus on creative outputs that CAN be measured. Digital metrics. Assorted ad formats. Precision targeting.

But shouldn’t we be able to measure creative work by responses? We can.

When these responses come from real people.

To put it simply, we are all human. Our emotions are the things that help us make every single decision we make. Who we buy from. Who we work for. What we wear. Everything that makes us, us. Get a reaction, and you might just have a sale. And isn’t that the end game for us all?

At JJ, we like to build strong relationships with everyone that we work with. We do this by helping them understand how we work. Why we ask that question. Why we might fight for that piece of work. Where possible, we’ll allow time for the necessary thinking, research and prep work to unearth that golden nugget of insight. To form the backbone of the creative brief. Who are we talking to? Why should they be bothered? And what’s the single most important thing the customer should take away from the communication?

We are strategic, creative and accountable for a reason. Because we know this is what gets the best results.