My remit as Creative Director of media agency OMD UK is not just about creating and selling in ideas working hands on with my team and across the agency. It is about doing this at scale. In other words, inspiring and empowering the agency to generate great ideas without me or my team in the room. Luckily I work in an agency brimming with creative energy and talent, so it is more a case of introducing a meaningful mission with little nudges and useful initiatives to help everyone stretch their work further.
At the beginning of 2015 we introduced a new creative mission. We wanted to move beyond the more traditional media approach of just buying a share of voice for brands. Our mission is to create ideas that earn a greater share of people's lives and attention for our clients and their brands. Ideas that offer something that ordinary people will genuinely pay attention to – either because the idea has offered a useful service, has delivered more clarity and convenience, is served up at the right moment or offered something fabulous and magical.
To help my colleagues and our clients stay true to this mission I introduced a simple test – It’s called the Give a Shitability test. It's as simple as this – to ask the question whether your target audience would absolutely, genuinely care about what you are trying to say or do. The test gives us permission to use our gut instinct. It speaks to our human being, not just our inner marketer.
It's proved a very honest and useful leveller, so I shared it at one of Tech Department’s Tech Off debates alongside three considerations that I’ve found particularly helpful in the creation of ideas that pass the Give a Shitability test -
1. Assumption is the mother of all f*ck ups
We all make assumptions and have blind spots, because we see the world as we are, not as it is.
To break our assumptions and get to why someone would care requires the art of empathy, putting oneself in someone else’s shoes, and the art of insight, digging out the underlying truth that reveals a fresh approach.
An anecdote credited to copywriter David Ogilvy illustrates this neatly – on passing a blind beggar holding a sign that read ‘I’m blind, please help’, Ogilvy changed the sign to ‘I’m blind. And it’s springtime’. In three words he put passers-by in the beggar’s shoes at a particularly pretty time of year, and the beggar’s cap was filled.
2. The power of context
The attraction of businesses like Netflix, Spotify, Uber and Airbnb is not so much that they are offering something new. How the service is experienced and accessed is the useful bit for their millions of fans. The revolution is in the platform. This applies to communications ideas too. Getting under the skin of the ‘how, when and where’ a message or service meets our target audiences and using this as a creative ingredient for ideas is a great way to pass the Give a Shitability test. Cannes Lions winner ‘Melanoma Likes’ campaign used an algorithm to identify people out in the sun on Instagram and Twitter. Sun worshippers got ‘Liked’ by Melanoma calling attention to the issue at the right moment, on the right platform and when behaviour could be changed. #killersun indeed.
3. The serendipity of diversity
Several months back a team of female-only scientists discovered an important new evolutionary link in the cradle of mankind in South Africa. Only women were small enough to fit through the entrance that led to the cave in which Homo Naledi’s remains were found. This highlights the importance of diversity. You never know what might happen when you put different types of people, skills and viewpoints together to crack ideas... the kinds of ideas that people will give a shit about. And the kinds of ideas that earn attention.
Ann Wixley was recognised as an Industry Influencer on 15th March 2016
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Ann Wixley has been a Contributor since 15th March 2016.