7 ideas to get your advertising team’s creative juices flowing


It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago but will soon be out of date.” —  Roger von Oech.

Innovative advertising is all about the ideas and how we develop them into effective programmes that help our clients drive their businesses.

Marketing platforms and consumer habits are changing so rapidly that we need to be constantly evolving and innovating just to keep up.

Sometimes that means stepping out of our comfort zones into uncharted territory to find something spectacular. 

There are some people, like Toronto Star Creative Director Lorne Silver, who have an ability to uncover new ideas within minutes of a request. Sometimes seconds. For others (like me), it takes time and a bit of a process.

Over the past few years, we have learned a few tricks that have helped the team to efficiently bring forward great ideas for our clients and stakeholders. Not all of these are ground breaking discoveries, but nonetheless may be useful for your teams.

  1. Do your homework: Before you gather the masses to a brainstorm, do some background research on your client, her brand, targets, assets, and past campaigns with you and your competitors. This provides a solid foundation from which to build great ideas that support their strategy, brand personality, and leverage their assets.

  2. Brainstorm: More minds are better than one. Once you do your homework, huddle together for the creative process. You know the drill. There are no bad ideas and this is not the time to critique. Just get as many ideas on the table as possible. The brainstorming process doesn’t need to be serious. Have some fun.

  3. Keep it small(ish): It’s tempting to want to include everyone in the idea process. But large groups can be counter-productive to the creative process.

  4. Step out of your comfort zone: As Roger van Oech says, it’s difficult to let go of what is proven to work. Innovation is about what is next. Don’t discount ideas because they don’t fit within the current product specifications or guidelines. Break the rules with ideas – then build them out and get buy in.

  5. Have a coffee: No scientific proof in this one, but creating a casual environment outside the boardroom facilitates a casual vibe and comfortable dialogue. And caffeine keeps everyone energised.

  6. Time: Allow for some time after the initial brainstorm to let it all sink in. “Stew” a little. Some of the best ideas come after the brainstorm is done.

  7. Think like a CMO: Evaluate your ideas and make sure they pass the test on key marketing objectives for your clients.

By no means is this list exhaustive of tips and tricks for the creative process, but a few that have worked for us, most of the time.

In my search for a great quote on creativity, it was difficult to settle on just one. So just for fun, here are a few more:

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you think if only you try.” – Dr. Seuss.

“Creativity comes from the conflict of ideas.” – Donatella Versace.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it. They just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” – Steve Jobs.

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