Why hammering the message home won’t work

Collaborating creatively brings out the best in us

IPA President Julian Douglas takes inspiration from the Three Lions and their team-building success to challenge the industry to work collaboratively and supercharge creativity.

If you were trying to put up a shelf would you want ten of the best hammers money could buy or a tool box with ten different tools?

Too often in advertising we have rooms of brilliant hammers, looking at the same problems in the same way. It’s not just about having a diverse range of people within our own industry, getting outsiders in to look at a problem can unlock new solutions.

One recent collaboration is the O2 in Fortnite. Bringing the world of music and gaming together it hosted a virtual gig experience with the band Easy Life.

This was a collaboration with all sorts of different creatives. Musicians, game designers, directors and creative directors. Each brought something different to the table and I was touched that the band were initially worried that 'they’d have to fit a tight brief' for the experience but found in the room that working with this group of creatives helped them realise their vision for the gig.

Increasingly I think that the biggest ideas come not just from what you do, but who you do it with.

We’re living in a world where the lines between what is virtual and what is real have become increasingly blurred.  The great acceleration of technology means that almost no one can keep up with the proliferation of platforms, media and devices.

If we want to thrive in this new world we have to work and collaborate with the people who live in it. Attempting to create a Tik Tok campaign solely from the desks of our creative departments would lead to us being found out by that audience in a second.

But working with the experts, the platforms and the creators can help us to build things that not only persuade and sell but also engage and entertain.

Beyond advertising I really believe that collaborating creatively brings out the best in us.

I was heartened to see people from my hometown of Manchester coming out and covering up the horrible racism that was painted on the Marcus Rashford mural.

The way they turned a disgusting display of hate into a living artwork of hope is a testament to the strength of that community and of this country.

The England team is itself a brilliant collaboration of the best sporting creativity this country has to offer and the humility and inclusive way they all work together is a great lesson for anyone trying to build a team to achieve a goal.

So next time you’re looking at a brief or a problem, don't bring in the same hammers, find a way to create those connections and collaborations that will supercharge creativity.

Julian Douglas is International CEO and Vice Chairman at VCCP and President of the IPA. His 10x: Accelerate Opportunity agenda seeks to turboboost the industry from the inside out through three key areas: IPA 10x (for the industry); THINK 10x (for wider society); TECH 10x (for gaming, AR and international collaboration).

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 22 July 2021