Tag Archives: ideas

The Changing Nature of the Idea

1930s-1950s – Living in a Print World

The key was to have a distinctive visual idea that gained cut through in a cluttered, predominantly print and poster world. The Marlboro Cowboy ruled the world, along with the Man in the Hathaway shirt, Tony the Tiger and various other lions, tigers and bears.

The Art department ruled.

1960s -1990s – TV shaped what we thought of as an advertising idea.

The reach and sheer intrusive presence of TV meant that you din’t have to insist too much on branding or impact, whatever Millward Brown said. Clear core thoughts (and ‘Just Do It’ was the benchmark) could be endlessly re-interpreted with relatively little continuity from one ad to the next. The challenge was to keep audiences interested by new chapters of the idea (though many marketers ignored this, and just bored people to death.)

TV writers and TV art directors ruled the land.


Brands are networks of people talking about things, and ideas are more like eco-systems. Loops, applications, sites, communities etc, that are useful, entertaining or in some way rewarding. Nike+ is a good example, as is i-Tunes.  In many cases, you have an ongoing relationship with them. The media efficiency is clear.

The industry does not know how to ideate for them, build them, or charge for them.

Nor does anybody know how to research them, or measure them. The very metrics should be different. Not cut through, or communication but engagement, and brand proximity.

Maybe the new partnership is creative planner + technologist.