The Seven Master Ideas

June 20, 2012

One of the most refreshing sessions I’ve attended so far was a workshop led by Patrick Collister, publisher of Directory. It promised to “provide instant inspiration for creatives, a sanity check for anyone who ever has to write a creative brief and even the means by which agencies can work more efficiently and make more money” – and I’m glad to say it delivered!

As we all know, seven is considered a magical number. There are seven days of the week, seven wonders of the world, seven deadly sins… and it turns out there are seven “master” ideas in advertising:

1. The Presenter. Who’s conveying the idea? It can be ordinary people, experts, celebs, dead people, even animals – but someone needs to be the face of it.

2. Problem/Solution. Deciding what needs to get done – and then how to get there – is an essential step. A problem well defined is already half-solved.

3. The Demonstration. An idea is nothing without a presentation. Show the effect and demonstrate how it feels.

4. The Analogy. Every idea needs to be related to something meaningful to the people who encounter it. What’s it like? Comparison leads to understanding.

5. Inversion. Every idea has another side. What if you were to take your proposition and reverse it – how would it change? What would you learn from it? Is it worth keeping?

6. The Slice of Life. Nothing tests an idea like a real-life scenario. How do you bring it into the everyday life of the audience?

7. Borrowed Interest. You can always make something by taking an existing idea and putting it in a new context. For instance, what about a Fishing Olympics to promote artisanal fishing?

According to Collister, these seven ideas will help us get started more quickly, develop more ideas, and do a better job of briefing and judging them. Needless to say, there are countless ways to play with any each of these, and I look forward to using them as hands-on tools in my own daily work. Routines and patterns get out of my way!