Simplicity, the relentless pursuit of ideas and an ability to know beyond and go beyond are the keys to agency creativity, says Weber Shandwick’s President and Cannes PR juror Gail Heimann.
During her visit to our Sydney office last week, Gail presented to both our team and clients on creativity, innovation, risk and the Ideas Boom. She spoke about what it takes to turn good work – even great work – into genius work.
“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits” – Albert Einstein
First up, Gail acknowledged that genius ideas don’t exist in abundance, and nor do they necessarily come easily. The relentless pursuit of creativity requires the fusion of specialist audience knowledge and engagement capabilities across analytics, strategy and production. Then combine that with an unwavering commitment to creating value, which in turn drives awareness.
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see” – Arthur Schopenhauer
To create genius work that moves hearts, minds and ultimately creates impact for a brand or cause, we must aim to ‘hit the target no one else can see’. And this is as much about understanding the context in which a brand or cause is operating within as it is about being predictive. That is, looking ahead to understand and foresee the trends and innovations that will not only influence our clients, but the people they want to engage with.
“Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes genius to make something simple” – Pete Seeger
The PR industry is always attempting to move the needle for clients, but as Gail says, we also have the tendency to overcomplicate. As she reminds us, the best ideas are often the simplest.
When you think about those campaigns that resonate globally, they typically contain a core, universal truth. One of the many examples Gail touched on during her visit was a campaign by ‘Water for Africa’, where a Gambian woman walked in the Paris Marathon carrying a 20kg container of water on her head and a sign which read (in English): “In Africa, women walk this distance every day to collect water. Help us shorten the distance”. The campaign won many awards but many more hearts as it put a human face to the numbers. It told a simple, yet powerful story about the countless kilometres many women in Africa walk each day just to access drinkable water.
A winning formula for creativity
To make creative, engaging, and genius work requires the three Cs: content, context and craft. The content of what you want to communicate, combined with an understanding of the context and framework you are operating in, and finally the way in which you craft that message to bring it to life.