Have you ever wondered whether your life was already planned out for you before you were even born? Maybe each event in your life is based on a pattern learnt in your childhood? Without delving too deeply in to philosophy or behavioural psychology, I recently read a book which got me wondering if there is a simple framework for human behaviour which is simply tweaked and repeated constantly, and how this could be applied to creative marketing.
An author friend recently recommended a book known as ‘the original Sex and the City’- ‘The Best of Everything’ by Rona Jaffe. I was asked to read it and think about whether women still thought, behaved and acted in the same way as those in the book (written in 1958). I realised within the first chapter that this book, about the ‘lives and loves of Madison Avenue’, was the basis for pretty much all of my favourite TV shows, not least HBO’s Girls and ABC’s Mad Men. The set-up is brilliantly simple, and has been tweaked and repeated through the history of (mostly American) television
One of the first things I learnt in intellectual property is that you can’t copyright an idea, only the expression of that idea, the ‘fixed’ work. Over the decades, producers have been tweaking and bettering the outputs based on this original idea, four friends living together, experiencing the trials and tribulations of city life.
How does this apply to brands?
The fact that most of us don’t even realise that we are essentially watching the same programme but with a different cast and wardrobe bodes well for brands and marketers. Developing a premise, or theme, that runs through advertising creates a buzz and anticipation within an audience, lifting a weight off marketers’ shoulders. John Lewis and Waitrose are great examples of this- proof that a tried and tested marketing campaign can still be exciting. Everyone waits excitedly for the storyboard behind the John Lewis Christmas advert- rapidly evolving to be more like a film release than a television advert.
One of our teams has stuck posters around the office reminding us that just because we used an idea once, doesn’t mean it is burnt out. It prompted me to try re-visiting old ideas and putting a different spins on them, creating a central theme. When we think about leading marketers, they all have a simple idea at their core. Using an idea once is a campaign, allowing it to direct you and help you evolve is a brand identity.