Creative thinking &

Brand communications

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The end of Dre-adful World Cup Ads?

I’ve never really thought of it before, but as the world cup looms large the usual guff of footie advertising is rolled out by the sports giants and the brand sponsors to the excitement of everyone. The cliches gather – the intricate skills, the studio created football stadium, the cultural diversity, the happy faces, the pristine kits and net bursting shots filled with celebs from the assembled nations that fly the flag under the respected stripes or tick.


Then we have the sponsors with more of the same, plus some product placement and that corny line at the end. And this year it’s been shown up for the lacklustre twaddle it is by a headphones company!


Beats By Dre (newly bought by Apple) really show how to create a piece of cinematic beauty, tap into the true emotion (and lets face it football is an emotional sport) and capture their place in this world of glamour - the game before the game.


It had the hairs on my neck standing up in the final 30 seconds! If you watch one World Cup TV ad this year, make it this one!

And in case you’re wondering here’s the rest of the one’s I could find… nothing to write home about.


Nike - Winner Stays On
(we have some big names to play with)


Adidas - The Dream (seen it a thousand times before)


McDonalds - GOL (performing seals of soccer)


Coca Cola (yeah, everyone drinks Coke)


Sony - One Stadium


Visa (Bolt... well that's all we need isn't it?)


Emirates - Fly Emirates (Pele makes up for that viagra ad)


The art of creative flow

A couple of years ago a friend of mine mentioned the idea of creative flow to me. At that time I thought ‘bah’ creativity was about getting your head into something and feeling it for me, not about the environment in which we work, or the actions of those around us. It’s funny how somethings stick with you, niggling in the back of your head. So, I began reading, researching and learning and looking how this thinking could be added to our own business and the people within it to better serve our clients.


Let’s start with the principle of ‘creative flow’. In itself the theory comes from Hungarian psychhologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He researched the concept of what makes people happy and that has led him to write several books on the subject. For me the most interesting is ‘Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention’. Csikszentmihalyi hypothesizes that these moments of flow occur because we’re simply activating too many neurological functions. Because of this we no longer have capacity to be aware of what functions we’re engaging in. So the ‘conscious of me’ part of the mind switches off, your awareness of yourself slips away, and you just do. The phrase “time flies” springs to mind and how often have you heard a work mate say “where did the time go” – these are those moments of flow and as a business if we can capture more of those surely the creative product will benefit.


Everything you’ll read states that flow is reached when the doer is challenging themselves and creating something they are fully engaged in. For me, I’d add without distraction to that and there in lies the tricky part for a studio environment as opposed to a lone creative, scientist or artist who can create an environment for flow more easily.


There are some accepted methods to create flow, not all can really be controlled in a commercial environment, but some interest me a great deal, here’s a run down of the key factors to attaining creative flow.


1. Do work that you feel passionate about

Kind of obvious and who wouldn’t want to do work they feel passionate about all day every day? Not always practical in a studio, but the need to be challenged in the work you do clearly is a simple step to have creative minds buzzing. I’m also of the belief that having clear goals is important too - what we’re trying to achieve or communicate, and most importantly how what we are aiming to do is meant to make someone feel.


2. Eliminate distractions

Turn off your phone, log out of twitter, switch off your email. If you’re constantly switching between different tasks you’ll never be able to achieve flow. That too can be impacted by the people around you too. Understanding the need for flow and not just putting that call through, or asking that question that could really wait are all factors in disturbing your flow. And require the team as a whole to embrace the idea of flow and the need to protect it. It’s probably one of the reasons you see so many studio’s with designers listening to headphones in an attempt to create that bubble to focus.


3. Think first

Be prepared, do the research, get your lunch, surround yourself with the things you’ll need to b creative. Anything that forces you out of the bubble will limit your ability to get in a flow.


4. Let go

Creativity is about exploration and as such starting with a preconception of the result will limit you. Just because a client said they wanted a 4 page Dl flyer doesn’t mean that’s what they need. Limiting ourselves creatively like that leads to the inevitable disappointment in the end results and therefore how good you feel about yourself and your creative ability.


5. Set a timeframe

By setting a limited time to achieve things it allows you to really go for it. Forget about how long you’ve been doing it or how much is left just flow and if at the end of the timeframe you’re still looking at the clock and haven’t lost track of it, then move on. Staring at the same thing for too long without flow is counter productive. Keep moving changing your thought direction and challenging your thinking until hey presto the magic happens.


6. Don’t over think it

Ha! Easy to say with so much psychology floating about! But in short worrying about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and if it’s right is common amongst designers. That self critique can often scupper a good idea before you’re really explored it fully.


7. Practice, practice, practice…

Like an skill you need to keep working at it. Achieving a state of flow isn’t going to happen every time, but creating the right environment for it to happen is vital, refining your process, your approach and those of the people around you.



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Richie Hartness

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