CAMPAIGN-I: Perspective - Ideas are the most important thing in a digital campaign

I wonder how many creative teams in advertising agencies read this

column? Well, if any of you do happen to be reading this, please stick

with it because what I want to talk about concerns you.



The 'i' word. Don't worry, this isn't another diatribe about interactive

TV ads and how you can't afford to ignore them anymore. I'm sure you've

heard enough sermons from the preachers of the interactive TV dream. No,

I want to talk about something much more fundamental - ideas. Simple,

strong and effective ideas. Am I alone in thinking that there is a

dearth of such ideas in the brave new-media world?



Let's immediately draw a distinction between a 'look' and an 'idea'.



There are many examples of things in the digital domain that look

interesting from a design perspective, such as funky Flash interfaces

and sexy site architecture. But there are fewer examples of outstanding

creative ideas, the kind that help to get a brand noticed and ultimately

purchased. In this area, it's still the old-media world that leads the

way.



It's no coincidence that two of the most popular viral e-mails of the

last year, for John West and Fox Sports, started life as TV ads. Both

are based on strong, simple ideas that translate easily into the online

medium.



It's true that there are restrictions of form and function that exist in

the digital environment.



But how long can these be used to mask the fact that the new-media

landscape still remains a rather creatively barren place?



The problem is less about technical issues and more about creative

resources.



There's no shortage of great designers. But where are the great idea

generators and content creators?



The answer is that a large number of them are sitting in advertising

agency creative departments. It's this relatively untapped resource that

could hold the key to the creativity that is currently missing.



No doubt many will argue that so-called 'traditional' creative teams

have little understanding of the intricacies of producing banners,

superstitials, virals and the like. But just as an art director and

copywriter work alongside a director or photographer when creating film

of pictures for ads, so they can work alongside a web designer or

programmer to bring their ideas to life online.



There is increasing evidence of such collaboration, as agencies dip

their toes deeper in the digital waters. But, until more creatives from

the mainstream work with their digital cousins, the new-media industry

will remain the poor creative relation.



So, if there are any agency creatives still reading this, go and get

your hands on one of the digital briefs that's bound to be lying on a

project manager's desk.



And remember, it all starts with an idea.



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