Do Ideas Matter Any More?

Twitter, Facebook, mobile marketing – how the media landscape has changed since I started my advertising career as a junior copywriter at Saatchis’ London, 25 years ago.

Back then, if you wanted a job in the creative department, you needed to be good at coming up with ideas – lots of them and good ones.

Great Ideas Stick In Your Mind

Ideas were hooks. They made ads memorable. Who could forget the Smash Martians, the pregnant man ad for the Health Education Council or the “Heineken refreshes the parts…” campaign?  Ideas like “Australians wouldn’t give a XXXX for anything else” made brands, and got people talking. And the belief was, if they didn’t get people talking, your ads probably weren’t any good. Just last month, the famous “Kipper” Lego ad, from the early 80s, was shown in the midst of the new commercials at my local cinema; it blew the more recent spots away.

Over the years, account planning grew in importance. As did brand design. So much so, it seems to me, that many marketers started neglecting ideas.

London Copywriter’s View

Then along came the economic crunch. Since when, many marketers have struggled with their budgets to advertise at all, and concerns about creativity have been buried in the rubble. Over the past year, I have seen only two outstanding campaigns in the UK – that is, campaigns which I wish I’d created: ‘Compare the meerkat’ and the new Diesel ‘Be stupid’.  But otherwise, as my creative partner Jeff says, “the recession has led to very recessive advertising.”

Anyway, the recession’s supposedly over now, isn’t it?  So maybe we’ll start to see more inspiring, memorable ads.

But now social networking is all the rage. And marketers are rushing to get on the Twitter/Facebook bandwagon.  And I hear very little talk of creative ideas.

What do you think – is having outstanding creative ideas still important in the Twitter age?

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