Do ideas come from anywhere?

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Back in the mid-noughties, Saatchi had an internal campaign based around the thought that ‘Ideas come from anywhere’. The line was plastered across notepads, mousemats, screensavers and so on. I think the intention was to get everyone in the building excited about the work and create a sense of shared ownership around it. When Robert Senior came in as CEO in 2007, he scrapped the campaign. Senior’s point of view is that ideas might occasionally come from anywhere but day in-day out, great ideas come from one place: the creative department. He believes that the people who are trained and experienced in the process of having ideas, have dedicated their working lives to it and are well paid for it, should be solely responsible for it. That’s not to say no-one else can have an opinion or input, but that the buck stops with the creatives.

I’m a very collaborative person and this perspective ran a bit counter to my thinking at the time. But I quickly came to agree. Ideas can come from anywhere but to have great ideas you have to have shedloads of them including lots of good ones, average ones and shit ones. On a consistent basis. You have to train your mind to be constantly in the process of sifting through your experiences and reference points to come up with ideas. It’s a discipline that, like anything else, you get better at with practice. Trevor Beattie once said that a great idea is like a £50 note on the floor in a pub. Anyone can see it and pick it up but only one person does. The reason I love that analogy is that every time I’ve ever had a half-decent idea I’ve always felt that I’ve stumbled across it rather than conjuring it up via some mysterious voodoo creative magic.

When you step outside of the creative world and look at it objectively, coming up with ideas as an occupation is quite strange. Turning your mind into an always-on threshing machine for advertising concepts is an odd thing to do. One of my first bosses, Siimon Reynolds, once said, “The exciting thing about advertising is that you are always only one second away from creating the greatest ad that has ever been seen. In a moment, it can come to you.” That goes some way to explaining the addictive nature of creativity and why 99 times out of 100 great ideas will come from creatives. When your mind’s trained to be constantly scanning the pub floor for dosh, you’ll be the first person to see that £50 every time.

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About antmelder
Creative Partner at DDB Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

One Response to Do ideas come from anywhere?

  1. DP says:

    Awesome post mate – keep em’coming

    Sent from my iPhone

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