Simplicity

Funny how simplicity seems to resonate through the ages. Try this – do a search on simplicity and look for quotes using a variety of variables. You will be amazed at how many scientists, philosophers, designers, thinkers, and doers – you name it – believe that simplicity is a powerful advantage for getting things done.

Think on this – as complicated as the world might seem at times and as convoluted as it gets, most of the so-called “laws of the Universe” are pretty simple. It’s funny how the best creative ideas seem to mirror the simplicity theme too. You know what I mean – those completely obvious solutions that make you slap your forehead and say, “why didn’t I think of that?” But you didn’t… Last week the Financial Times featured an article by Gary Silverman called “Is IT the Future of Advertising”. It was a piece on BBDO, that old economy ad agency which had a banner year, even winning E-Bay as a client, and was credited with helping them increase their sales – their ROI.

The reporter tries to get to the core of what makes BBDO successful, and he discovered that it was, in basic terms, its simplicity. Clients want ideas – big ideas that travel, cross channels and build business. He writes that what BBDO creates is “an idea so powerful, yet so adaptable, that it can be used as the basis of a marketing campaign that works in any medium – a television commercial, a website, a word-of-mouth campaign, an outdoor poster or even a package design.“ Nowhere in the article does he mention integration and not once did the BBDO folks use the “I” word. Instead they attributed all their success to simple, pared down “reductionist” ideas – full stop.

After I read the article, I called Gary Silverman and reverse interviewed him. Surely they talked about integration? No doubt they mentioned working with the other Omnicom agencies? What about ATL and BTL? (Not that we use those terms anymore…) Interestingly enough, he did try and engage them in that conversation and they ignored it. They didn’t bite. It wasn’t important. It is ideas alone – simple and pared down – that are big and powerful, moving business and building sales and profit.

I think we sometimes get confused between our needs and our business and our clients’ needs and their business. Clients don’t care about our internal process, our procedures or our business strategy. They want us to care about theirs and add value. Keep it simple.

You don’t have to be Einstein to get it, but he did weigh in on the subject:

“It should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid.”
– Albert Einstein

And there you have it. We shouldn’t have to explain our ideas to anyone. If they are not evident, we’ve blown it…

Keep it simple – Your turn.

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