Creative Gold

Yes, I know it’s a bit late to be commenting on the Olympics, but now that the dust has settled we can at least view the games with a little more objectivity… They have of course been an outstanding success. We were all galvanized by the sense of occasion and the almost surrealistic, magical atmosphere that descended over the capital for those few weeks.

Naturally sporting achievements took centre stage (my favorite being Nicola Adams women’s boxing gold). However, for me, the greatest sense of “wonder” during the games was elicited by Danny Boyle’s astonishing opening ceremony. Often described as “bonkers” in the press, it was a work of joyous, anarchic brilliance. It pressed all the right buttons, and was so powerful in its vision that it seemed to unite the whole country in a moment of celebratory self belief. Why was it so successful, so life affirming so breathtaking? Are there any lessons we (and our clients) can take from it’s success to apply to our own creative endeavors?

Firstly, I suggest, the selection of Danny Boyle as creative director was a stroke of genius. He has talent, personality, passion, integrity and energy. He seems his own man and not a party political placement.

Lesson No.1 – Be bold when selecting a creative partner. Look for vision, boldness, opinion, good form and a clear sense of creative direction.

Having selected Mr Boyle, Seb Coe apparently placed a “protective ring” around the whole creative team keeping out any “small-minded” political interference.

Lesson No.2 – Let them get on with it. If you have enough faith in your creative team to actually select them, let them get on with it and trust them to deliver the right results. If you have chosen your creative partner well, the results will be worthwhile.

The opening ceremony was audacious, anarchic, enlightened, intelligent and full of heart-warming human values. It wasn’t aimed at pleasing everyone, It didn’t pull punches. It had a personal point of view.

Lesson No.3 – Don’t try to please everyone. A clear individual vision will always stimulate debate, but it also implies creative integrity, and that resonates with consumers. Whereas design by committee leads to compromise and that can weaken a brand message. I don’t mean to be encouraging creative arrogance here… I mean that every brand has a personality and people buy personality. Therefore don’t dilute the creative message by letting too many people influence the outcome.

The opening ceremony was so much more stimulating and interesting than the closing ceremony. I am not exactly sure why it turned out that way, but my guess is that the closing ceremony creative team tried too hard to please too many people. Finally, during the process, the whole show became a middle-of-the-road compromise, not really pleasing anyone. In these highly competitive days, the bold vision, beautifully executed, surely has the better chance of winning gold.