Analysis & Opinion

Mountains of creativity. Lessons from Making Digital Work II

August 19, 2010 MullenLowe

The drive from Denver International Airport to Boulder Digital Works frames the rise of some of the most dramatic peaks – a fitting setting for one of the most innovative workshops in our industry of digiraditional marketing. For an industry that preaches words like evolution, revolution and “game-changing” (ugh) innovation to our clients, we are often lethargic at changing our own agency business models, process and people, stuck somewhere on the plateau, creating ideas that start to look the same – flat and linear vs. jagged, complex and engaging.

Because we all need more mountains and less plateaus of creativity, Boulder Digital Works and the assembled group of participants from the recent August two day session set out to inspire both people and ideas that blur the lines between the real world and an augmented one found online.  And to create “stuff” that connects the two, leaving the old formulas of talk-at persuasion behind.

Below are five learnings from BDW that are actionable for any agency or client – helping amplify our own approach to creative ideas, what we call unbound thinking.


1. Blurring definitions of media
Paid media, earned media and user media are all highly influential in changing consumer behavior – forcing marketers to redefine past architecture of ideas in a new social landscape. Be useful, mobile and part of the conversation.


2.  Re-brief
The brief needs to evolve in an increasingly digital, social world – inspiring the stuff we are trying to create, not say.  To quote Gareth Kay of Goodby, “It’s not what we do, it’s what people do with what we do.” A brief should inspire ways to create space, not just use space.


3. T-shaping
A new breed of T-shaped people is emerging with knowledge of all disciplines at the top and core discipline expertise pointed upward. Ultimately, it is up to every employee, not a department, to become digiraditional. Learn it, live it, tweet it.

4. Ideas that redefine ideas
Some of the best examples of new creative work from clients and agencies connects the participatory and social aspects of digital with an offline idea. Small is the new big. New creative thinking requires an understanding of how to create interesting content and utility – but in a new, complex way. An idea that can be advertised, not an advertisement. It’s best explained by looking at some of these examples below.

5.  Expanding creatives
Ideas that redefine ideas require new faces to join teams, eliminating 40-year-old silos of job function. Including UX, digital strategists, social expertise and PR into the creative process early to shape platform ideas for the new social landscape. Opening up creativity beyond the traditional art director/copywriter model.

And one final parting thought. New strategies and ideas can’t replace the intense, lengthy and thought-provoking conversations had over the alluring assortment of IPA local microbrews after the sessions end. When you get that many brilliantly smart, interesting and “ready to climb mountains” people together, the dialogue itself becomes just as much of a reason to find time for a trip to Boulder.