The campaign was a knockout. Accolades pour in from all sides. People call to congratulate our marketing agency, rave about how intrigued they were by the theme, and of course ask the inevitable question I’ve heard so many times over the years: “So how’d you come up with the big idea?”
This ostensibly innocent little inquiry irks me to no end.
As if I pulled a furry pink Energizer Bunny out of a magician’s top hat. As if I snapped my fingers at the mustachioed maître d’ in a snobbish steakhouse and the big idea was ceremoniously carried in on a gleaming silver tray, resting neatly alongside a fresh mound of mashed potatoes and steamed artichoke. As if I sat down at my desk, gave my pneumatic chair two swift pumps, rolled up my shirtsleeves, and knocked out the idea in five minutes flat.
Wouldn’t that be sweet.
Sure, I sat down at my desk. Yes, I pumped that rolling chair a good three or four inches higher. Granted, I rolled up my plaid-patterned shirtsleeves. And heck, I knocked out plenty of ideas.
But then, after reviewing them all, I realized they just wouldn’t make the cut. Perhaps the initial concepts weren’t entirely reflective of what the brand represented. Or didn’t accurately portray the diverse product benefits. Or hadn’t directly resonated with the emotions of the target market at hand.
Point is they went straight into the trash bin and a whole new batch of ideas were created. But I didn’t randomly save them on my computer desktop in a nameless, faceless, solitary file. I took them with me home, brought ’em along on the weekly supermarket shopping expedition, had them close by while eating breakfast and lunch and supper, kept them handy while playing ball with my frisky toddlers, and even had those uncouth concepts lying next to me in bed.
Those ideas raced through my mind while at the pizza shop, in the gym, driving carpool, getting a flat tire, mounting a spare tire, buying a new tire, soaping up in the shower.
And eventually, while embarking on the many monotonous duties that life brusquely thrusts upon us mere mortals – and concurrently shifting dozens of ideas around in the head both day and night – those disparate thoughts congealed into a cohesive, seamless, vibrant organism; a creation which inevitably took on a life of its own. Voila! At long last, the big idea was born.
So there. My little secret about how I acquire the big idea is revealed. It doesn’t come from a magic hat or bow-tied waiter or ergonomically designed office chair – or even the human brain.
It comes straight from the heart.