The Big Idea

The Big Idea

Are big ideas the cornerstone of every successful advertising campaign? Alex Zervos takes a look…

You ask anyone in the industry what’s needed for a successful advertising campaign, you’ll probably hear the same thing from all of them. Before a campaign can even begin to be implemented, there’s a plethora of research to be done, insights to be cherry-picked, creative executions to be thought of, and strategic planning to be, well, planned. These are constants and like it or not, your sanity would come in to question if you chose to skip a step when conceiving a campaign. Advertising in today’s society is a highly demanding proposition, and you’d be at a severe disadvantage if you didn’t understand the market you were competing in, you’d be lost without a target market, you’d be blander than dirt, and what’d be the point of a campaign that no one would ever see?

Now, if you were to ask those same people what the most important part of a campaign was, in contrast to before, they’d each have their own take on the matter. Arguments would range from passive to outright zealous, and at the end of the day, none would be more or less correct than the other.

Ultimately, truly great advertising boils down to taking risks, pushing the envelope, and challenging expectations. We are drawn towards the reliability of data and the safety of planning, but all these do are tether us to what’s been done before. “A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.” To make something new involves understanding the past, and leading change. These are, and will always be, important ingredients in the marketing formula. Without these pieces of the puzzle, we cross the line between a calculated risk, and doing something, to put it simply, dumb. That said, there is only so much we can do in terms of research and planning. The same cannot be said for the creative process, however, and everything that goes into the inception of ‘the big idea’.

There’s a reason it’s called the big idea. It is at this point in the process of producing a campaign that things truly begin to take shape and define a brand, and, realistically, is the only chance given to break away from the crowd. Not every ad takes advantage of this opportunity to actively break from the norm, but for those that do, and chose to put everything on the line, it’s often a matter of risk meeting reward. These are often the ones we pay the most attention, remember the fondest, and stick with us the longest. “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”

Campaigns rise and fall on the substance of their ideas, just as they do in regard to everything else. In exchange for greater pitfalls, we are also given the opportunity to soar higher than anyone else. This doesn’t mean you should scream YOLO and jump the cliff every chance you get. What are we, lemmings? Check the map. Peek over the side. Check, double check, hell, triple check your parachute. In the end, you’re still going over the edge, its up to you how long the fall is.

In the end, it all comes down to the big idea.

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