When working as a creative in the advertising business we were obsessed with finding the Big Idea. We wanted that great campaign with the clever tagline that everyone would talk about, hand awards to, and of course make the cash register ring. This catch phrase was even turned into the CNBC talk show The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.
The big idea was about running 6 month or annual advertising campaigns with three print ads, a radio spot, some banner ads and a couple billboards, etc. Soon enough the ad agency or brand manager or CEO would grow tired of the campaign and we would step up to bat and try to hit another one out of the park. Big ideas were tidy mini stories told in a series of well crafted and finely controlled media executions. And stories in advertising are powerful as my recent research on Super Bowl ads has proven.
We were creating integrated campaigns with digital and social media, but social wasn’t as mainstream as it is today. As of September 2013, 73% of online adults use social networking sites. Fully 40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone.
Because social media is so big today I think the big idea has to be different. In social media there are so many individual executions being created daily, by brands and their consumers, we need a brand story that doesn’t start or end, but evolves and is co-created over time through interaction with customers.
But to do this you need to know what that core story is first and have a solid social media policy in place, because you will have more than one brand story teller versus the traditional advertising copywriter and art director. Now we engage our customers in conversation. John Miller hit upon this in a recent Inc. article.
What do you think? Is the traditional advertising campaign idea dead? Don’t get me wrong, you still need a big idea and creativity. It’s just not such a tidy process. In a way, your ideas must be even bigger and more flexible to include trends and consumer comments and content.
In terms of social media and story telling, brands need to get out of the campaign mindset and start living out a bigger story on a daily basis.