We are all creative – we just don’t know it.

Here’s a talk I did at CES 2015 in Vegas. The transcript is below it.

People think that you get creative people, and you get non-creative people. That the best ideas are generated by people with the word “creative” or “conceptual” in their title.

Most of us are familiar with that feeling of drawing a total blank when we are challenged with coming up with an idea, especially when we are busy with the daily grind of buying OOH media. When this happens, we excuse ourselves by saying: “I’m not a creative, I’m a suit”. When we are given a request to “come up with something innovative” without anything to go on, it can be daunting.

Derren Brown, a magician TV host from the UK who specializes in the power of suggestion, did a great episode which I think proves how everyone can be creative. It is only what we start with that determines how good our ideas are.

Here is a video which shows two creative executives being challenged with a task. They have to come up with branding, name and a new logo for a taxidermy business.

Derrin places his own designs on a piece of paper in a sealed envelope in plain view and he gives them 30 minutes to do their ideas.

They start their designs, crumple up a few and get busily to work. It’s tough even for them, a creative director and conceptual designer respectively. But eventually something starts to form.

Then the big reveal. Derren lifts the paper to show a bear playing a harp, and a logo with zoo gates surrounding by angel wings, and the name “Animal Heaven”.

They try to justify how they came up with this out of the air: “Well, we came up with this idea of Zoo gates, sort of like all the animals are in a zoo but like a zoo animal heaven.”

But then Derren takes out the envelope and shows them his design. They are shocked. Inside is almost exactly the same design. A harp playing bear, zoo gates, angel wings and his name “creature heaven”.

Then it shows their journey to the brainstorm room. They drive past the London Zoo gates. And past a bunch of kids wearing the logo on their shirt. Angel wings drawn on a sign outside a coffee house. Irish harps in window displays.

The point of all this is that all of the best ideas that we can remember from 2014 were not the result of highly talented creative people, but a single spark that allowed them to build on for the right idea.

Getting practical, I found this tiny chip on Kickstarter. It detects wetness. That’s all it does. Apply it to one of our clients and you have this concept: an app that lets you know when your baby is wet and needs changing.

Then I found some technology in the form of a tiny piece of microfilm. You stick it to your smartphone which then detects your blood/alcohol level.

One of our clients are doing a campaign to raise awareness about DWI. (Driving while intoxicated). Here, you can approach a screen, breathe on the circle and see a result.

The result is your blood alcohol warning and a number to get an UBER to collect you from the bar. A very good idea – if I do say so myself – but the point being it’s not because I am super creative, just that I took something that was already there and applied it to our business.

These sparks are everywhere, all we need to do is look at them and go through a simple exercise of applying it to our medium. Therein, the best ideas will come.

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