Friday, 25 May 2012

The death of the brainstorm?

Turner prize winning artist Jeremy Deller joining acid house and brass bands - the sprawlings of a creative brain

Brainstorms, that hoary old staple of the PR agency landscape, have been playing on my mind recently. We didn’t have one for a recent pitch we did to a major blue-chip drinks brand and now I’m wondering, should we just kill them off completely? I’ve often felt dissatisfaction from brainstorms and from talking to people across the industry I know I’m not alone.They often downplay the thoughts of the genuinely creative and overplay those who are much more narrow-minded.

There are often still the annoying/overbearing/intimidating/ noisy people and the quiet/please-contribute people. They assume people can turn their creative mind on at 10am on a wet Tuesday morning in an office. Or at the last minute because the person running the session suddenly has a spare hour.And, they assume you have creative people in the room in the first place.

In the brainstorm for the pitch mentioned above we took an ad-land approach. We paired people up and briefed them. They were given 48 hours thinking time. We encouraged them to think individually and as a duo, away from the office… on their commute, in the shower, at the gym, wherever worked for them. They relaxed. And mulled. They pondered. And reflected. And *really* considered the problem, for two days not an hour.

The concepts that were presented back to the pitching team were, frankly, brilliant. The younger duos came back with really cool stuff they were really passionate about; the digitally-minded came back with concepts which began in social spaces and the pitching team had a far greater variety than we would have had from a traditional brainstorm.

We took the thinking away from an office room to a place where most of us actually have ideas... tubes, trains, gyms, showers, loos and beds. We rid ourselves of the impact of the noisy people and got more from the quieter types. We didn’t require facilitation. People took inspiration from friends, family, situations and emotions they couldn’t access in a meeting room. Everyone, without exception, enjoyed the process more.
And the pitch result? We won.

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