Thursday, 25 March 2010

Stravinsky the bank manager

Do highly creative individuals look different?

In my experience some do, some don’t.

There’s no doubt with Albert Einstein. The amazing breakthrough thinking matches up precisely with the visual image of the wild-haired, wild-eyed maverick.

But consider Igor Stravinsky. The Rite of Spring ballet that he composed for Diaghilev was so shocking when it was first performed in 1913 that there were riots in the streets of Paris. And composers are still dealing with and responding to the savagery of his musical vision.

Yet Stravinsky presented himself more like a bank manager than a revolutionary artist. And so did one of the greatest and most radical of twentieth century poets, TS Eliot.

In my own working experience, I learned over time not to trust the packaging as an accurate guide to the contents when dealing with “creatives” in an ad agency. Some of the greatest copywriters I worked with dressed and behaved conservatively, while some of the least talented presented themselves as geniuses.

But how are we to tell the difference?

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

“I’ve never tried it because I don’t like it”

A friend of mine was working on some new ads for Guinness when he heard a lady say this in a focus group. So he used it as a headline for a poster.

It seems to me to be the underlying attitude of the “late adopter” in so many fields. Reluctance to try something new because they don’t want to take a risk.

With new products, so much marketing effort appears to be expended on early adopters, who represent a much easier target - one that will get sales moving quickly and demonstrate to senior management that we have a success on our hands.

Yet by their nature, early adopters are fickle. They’ll pick up the next passing cab without a thought. Not the firmest of foundations.

The thing about the ones who never tried it because they don’t like it, is that, once tried and enjoyed, they will be tons more loyal.

So how to get them to take that step?