Bogusky’s six rules for being a media maverick

An interesting little read I found in todays enewsletter, imedia connection.

1. Sell the solution, not the ads

iMedia: Is it hard to sell clients on some of your wackier ideas?

Bogusky: Our approach to advertising is not necessarily to come at it through advertising. We use creativity as a leverage-able asset in solving business problems. We don’t present things in such a way that they’re ever misaligned to the business issues clients have. We don’t wind up in a selling “situation,” we wind up in a conversation where we usually talk about the work and the different aspects of each, where one might be stronger or weaker. It’s everyone together looking for a solution, and not so much, “Hey, what’s the most creative thing or the most outrageous thing?”

2. School the creativity

iMedia: How do you manage your staff to foster creativity while encouraging strategic thinking?

Bogusky: There’s a little bit of work to be done to adjust people. I think as an industry, we sometimes get it a little wrong. We think that our creative goals are at odds with commercial goals. Until you get through that, you don’t ever become a great creative person.

We’re not in the business of making cute little films and throwing logos on the end of them. We’re in the business of being really compelling.

One thing we do as we begin a creative project, instead of working on specific media, we write press releases about our ideas. For example, a press release for the Whopper Freakout campaign would say, “Burger King announced today they would be removing the Whopper from their restaurants.” It would go on to talk about consumer outrage. It’s a good way to determine whether you have a rich idea or not. If an idea is good enough for someone to write about, it’s probably good enough for someone to talk about.

3. Follow your nose instead of the money

iMedia: Explain your product innovation strategy and how it fits in with the traditional agency business. You’ve reinvented the kitchen sponge, for starters.

Bogusky: Reinventing the sponge is really fun, and it’s such a small creative box. “Design more sponges.” What could be more impossible?

Our approach to industrial design is purely around brand: creating products that best illustrate the values of the brand and that potentially have marketing baked into the actual design. For example, the Twist sponges we designed are actually branded with little tags. They’re pretty enough to be left out, so if you’re in somebody’s kitchen, you see the sponge and the Twist brand.

4. Always tell the truth

iMedia: Do you have a personal mantra or golden rule of advertising?

Bogusky: No, I don’t think it’s a personal mantra, because you’re discovering the brand and discovering what needs to be changed about pop culture, so the brand and the offering you’re working on becomes an obvious choice for the culture. That’s our way of going about things. We don’t want to find some trend and then do advertising that basically lies about the product to attach it to the trend in the hope that it will sell. If it’s Burger King, and we want to help guys who are being inundated with the notion of metrosexuality, understand that it’s OK to have a killer burger — that’s a great path. And that’s going to help our client become an offer that’s culturally relevant. I don’t want to do CP+B work; I want to do the right work for the client.

5. Look ahead but not too far

iMedia: What excites you about the future?

Bogusky: What’s always kept me in it is that it’s ever-changing. I get asked a lot to predict where things are going in media; for some reason, people think we have an idea. There are so many pieces moving at the same time. I can look at the sponge business and make some assumptions, but the media business is so complex that it’s all chaos theory. We try to think about what’s going to be possible 15 minutes from now. That’s worked pretty well for us.

6. Do what you like, not what you want

iMedia: If you were a young person excited about the business, how would you prepare yourself to do great work?

Bogusky: At first, you have to just get started and learn more about what it is that you really like about the business. Sometimes you talk to young people and they think they want to be an art director, but you realize they’re more of a writer. You talk to an art director and you see that the only time their eyes begin to sparkle is when they talk about the toys they make. And you realize: that’s a toymaker. And yet, there’s probably a lot of pressure at school and at home to do something because you’re good at it. Yeah, you’re good at that, but your eyes light up when you talk about this.

You have to discover that for yourself, and you can discover it at any place. Be open-minded and just slide toward those things that give you joy.

If you haven’t guessed this article is from imedia.

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