Illusion of Innovation

allblacks

Our industry nowadays is obsessed about creating something “new”. We are creating stunts instead of establishing icons.

I was reminded by this illusion of new & shiny, when someone commented that New Zealand safety videos are getting boring. Here is the latest one featuring All Blacks as Men In Black:

The reason was that they are nothing new and they did All Blacks video “already” four years before. Not to mention they have done funny safety videos for years:

Hobbit

Betty White

Safety Safari

That comment does not really make any sense.

Firstly, the insight behind those safety videos is really solid. No one watches safety videos, because no one really cares (until it is too late) and usually they are also utterly boring. The idea was just to make those formerly boring videos funny. And that is working really well. Majority of those safety videos are getting millions of views, which is quite a lot of more than your brand´s latest viral video.

Secondly Air New Zealand has kept on innovating within its formula. They target to different target audiences (old, young) and their passion points (Tolkien, sports, weirdness). They have turned a necessary evil into a marketing vehicle and if they are smart, they keep on doing it for the years to come. Also they are really showing these safety videos on flights, so on top of the YouTube views, they are actual a beneficial asset for the firm. That is quite a lot more than you can say about your latest “innovation” project, which might get a mention in PSFK if you were lucky.

In our desperate chase of stunts, we have totally neglected building of formulas. When you have a winning formula for ad, the steps for the success are simple:

  1. If you find something that works, try to replicate it.
  2. If it still works, replicate it even more.
  3. Refresh and innovate but within the formula. No need to think outside the box, if you can rethink the box.
  4. Repeat as long as your audience gets truly bored with it.

The last point is the most important one. If the agency gets bored with the formula, that does not matter. Change the team. If the client gets bored with the formula, agency should fight back to retain the formula (or try to change the client). But if audience gets bored to the formula, change it and fast. It does not matter if everyone in the boardroom likes it, if it does not resonate with the real people. Usually the challenge is opposite though. Because of the cyclical nature of ad industry, we won´t allow things to grow and instead jump over to new things without any sense of direction. Creating iconic ads takes time and too often brands don´t let proven formulas to flourish to iconic ad series.

Finnish coffee brand Paulig Juhla Mokka (The Party Mocca) has been running the same ad concept from the year 1979. It shows artisan honing his craft and then establishes the parallel of the same dedication being applied to their brand. Approach is simple, recognizable and still working.

If it isn’t broken, why fix it?

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