The ‘old format/new twist’ method



Ever since I started in advertising I’ve been fascinated by methods for coming up with ideas. Edward De Bono is the daddy in this area and his Lateral Thinking and Six Thinking Hats were my Bibles during my early years in advertising. I was turned onto him by one of my first CDs, Siimon Reynolds, who was an obsessive student of ‘thinking systems’. Siimon taught me many practical ways of systematically focusing my mind on a brief to come up with solutions. At first, this felt too functional but, over time, I came to see that a methodical approach is essential when you need to deliver ideas meeting after meeting, day after day, week after week. And while there are limited formats for an idea, there are unlimited things you can do within those formats. Later, I came across similar thinking in other areas of creativity, such as Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots and Robert McKee’s Story.

I wrote a little while ago about ‘The Seinfeld Method’. The ad above – recently pointed out to me by my lovely new colleagues – is a great example of another way into a brief. Putting aside the fact that pay-day loan firms are heinous bloodsuckers, it uses what I call the ‘old format/new twist’ method, to great effect. The ‘old format’ is ‘If situation X occurs, product Y can help’. And while product Y is whatever it is, the ‘new twist’ comes in because the possibilities of what situation X could be are endless. Have some fun with that, sprinkle some executional magic dust over the casting and performances and, hey presto, you have an ultra-memorable ad that stands out a mile and gets people talking about it. Brilliant advertising. Top work, Clemenger BBDO Brisbane.


About antmelder
Executive Creative Director at Host/Havas Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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