Protagonist at DIS: Rethinking the Big Idea

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Consumer habits are changing, and with it, brands need to change how they engage with their customers. Protagonist's Matti Leshem will discuss how, and why, brand campaigns need to adopt a more …

Consumer habits are changing, and with it, brands need to change how they engage with their customers. Protagonist's Matti Leshem will discuss how, and why, brand campaigns need to adopt a more holistic approach in their storytelling strategies.
Presenter: Matti Leshem, CEO and founder, Protagonist @Protagonistweet

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  • Meet Uk. [Tell Uk’s story here]
  • His personal brand lives in the storytelling.Cave paintings were created 30,000-40,000 years agoUk created the first meme.
  • What’s a meme, you ask?
  • Uk’s meme is still replicating today. In fact, I just saw this on the internet today.
  • 30,000 years later we are still looking at the meme Uk created,That’s the power of a meme.
  • Consider this meme.
  • The power of this meme is that it was so recognizable, so iconic, that even when it was being used to communicate something completely unrelated to to the brand it supported, it STILL supported that brand. These are not pictures of Barack Obama. But these images communicate the OBAMA brand, whether they want to or not. That’s the power of a meme.
  • A meme isn’t always a big idea.
  • But a big idea is always a meme.
  • So what is a big idea? That is after all what we’re here to talk about today. This image is of an art installation titled YOUR RAINBOW PANORAMA, and it was created by OlafurEliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist who is one of my favorites.  This piece was constructed on the rooftop of the ARoS Museum in Denmark. The reason I chose it is that I believe ART is the original BIG IDEA.  Creating something that is intended to evoke participation and personalization from people who have no intrinsic connection to the work is the biggest idea possible. And the drive to create art existed long before there was a commercial need to conceive of big ideas.  So my point is that art is a big idea. And OlafurEliasson is a great example, because his art is constructed in such a way that it only has meaning when it is experienced. In this piece the interaction happens when you personally walk through the installation and experience the rainbow colors.  And this is critical because once you experience it you build a narrative. And narrative is at the core of humanity because…
  • …the human brain is wired for storytelling. We know that information has more meaning when we hear it as a story. And we know that the only story anyone cares about is the one they’re starring in. In fact it’s the way we relate to the world around us. So getting your audience to put themselves into the concept you create is the nucleus of a big idea.  Remember what we were saying about memes?
  • Todd Sawicki is the CRO of Cheezburger Network, which you probably know as the home of LOLCATS. And it’s the proof that there is a lot of money to be made in cat photos.In any case, here’s what Todd Sawicki had this to say about the importance of memes.[READ QUOTE]It’s fair to say that all of us in this room, whether we work at an agency or a brand, feel our ears prick up a little when that carrot gets dangled. THE UNIQUE CULTURAL RELEVANCE THAT YOU CAN”T BUY. This is the holy grail in marketing and advertising. This is the nexus of the BIG IDEA.
  • So how do you know if an Idea is big?A big idea is something that moves the prevailing culture forward. It’s deeply embedded in the culture, and it’s additive. [CLICK]Big ideas transform positively the way consumers engage with and perceive a brand. [CLICK]Big ideas have an imprinting power. They keep the brand alive in the consumer’s mind even when the campaign is no longer present.
  • Does this look familiar?
  • Ad created in 1960 at DDB by Koenig and Krone under the watchful gaze of Bill Bernbach of DDBWhat the creatives picked up on was that there was something in the culture. Something counter to the culture. This ad says, “This is not a family car. This is a car for an individual. With room enough for his buddy, his girlfriend, and his surfboard.” In 1960 that was an important and growing trope in the culture.And the success of this campaign proves that Ideas that come out of the culture, conceived of by people who study the culture fanatically, can get into the culture and start to have an impact because they accurately reflect the truth of that culture. This ad is also emblematic of the power of simplicity, elegance, and unconventional thinking in communicating a message.This ad was so successful that it made us all think of Volkswagen as a cute, sporty car for individuals and it completely distracted us from the fact that it was a car designed by Hitler.
  • The feeling of that ad. Is till with us in VW’s advertising today.
  • Or how about this. In 1980 we were experiencing a massive sexual revolution. Taboos were being broken left and right and when the stunning and underaged Brooke Shields said, “You Wanna Know What comes between me and my Calvins” everyone scratched their heads… until she said… NOTHING – which epitomized a truth about sexuality and female empowerment [Click to make each text line appear.]I think it’s safe to say the thing that comes between Brooke and her Calvin’s today is a pair of Spanx, but I digress.
  • That meme and even the look of ad is still with us today’s current advertising…  Both VW and Calvin Klein have been very successful in no part due to these BIG IDEAS!
  • In the Mad Man era Big Ideas were easier because the world was smaller.  The bigger the world, the more difficult the idea becomes.  But the anatomy of the big idea remains the same  BillBernbach created that VW ad and was the star of the golden age of advertising, he said, [CLICK]"Let us prove to the worldthat good taste, good art, good writing can be good selling.”
  • The irony of Bill Bernbach’s legacy is that he then went on to form one of the great media holding companies Omnicom -- by merging DDB, BBDO and Needham.
  • Once Wall Street got their hands on this business the bottom line became critical. Creativity and risk taking and big ideas became a thing of the past
  • [CLICK]HOLDING COMPANIES SURVIVE BY FAVORING COST CONTAINMENT AND AUTOMATION OVER RISK-TAKING AND CREATIVITY [CLICK]THE COMPETITION WILL ALWAYS OFFER TO UNDERCUT YOUR BUDGET[CLICK]CLIENTS BELIEVE THEIR SURVIVAL RELIES ON REPLICABLE STRUCTURAL AND COMMODITIZED PRACTICESALL OF THIS, had little to do with STORYTELLING.So what happened? Where did we lose our way? Big ideas are fewer and further between and truly creative people wouldn’t be caught dead working for a big advertising holding company. In 1960, if you were a young smart kid getting out of college all you wanted to do was work on Madison Ave. Today you want to be a technologist, or a filmmaker, or an artist, or an environmentalist or maybe you want to save the world.  But how do we fix this problem? Well, first you have to recognize that the existing structure, i.e., massive digital agencies (most of whom belong to the same holding companies) can’t solve the problem. It’s just structurally impossible. The way we do it at my company is fairly straightforward.
  • My company is called Protagonist
  • We are a brand energy company. Simply put we offer solutions to continuously energize brands, large and small, with a quickly changing, fickle constituency that has more choices and less attention than ever before.
  • As you CAN see, we’ve worked with some of the best brands in the world. And we’ve come up with lots of big ideas. But since we don’t have a lot of time, I’d just like to take you through one of them.  
  • [Tell the Dewmocracy story, beginning with the erroneous brief; Give ROI outcomes] One really powerful outcome that I saw as a creative professional was that the success of this program actually paved the way for me to be able to create the Pepsi Refresh Project, which is another program you’ve probably heard of and a great example of a big idea that broke the traditional advertising model in a powerful way. The only reason I was able to take that idea to IndraNooyi, Chairman of Pepsico, was Dewmocracy.  The lesson here: A big idea that wins creates instant credibility.
  • I’m not going to go into the Pepsi Refresh Project at all, but I think the greatest measure of ROI for my company is that 20 other agencies will step up and take credit for it, regardless of their involvement. Now I’ve just given you a couple of examples of really successful big ideas, but that’s not to say that there aren’t bad ones.
  • Here are a few.
  • So these are the Protagonist rules for Conceiving of a Big. [CLICK] 1. Mine the culture for your brief (and write the brief yourself)If you’re an agency, answer the briefs you get, but don’t be hamstrung by them. And if you’re a brand, try and write your briefs with a little breathing room. You’d be surprised the quality of ideas that emerge when the barricades are torn down.  [CLICK]2. Accept ideas from everyone and everywhere[CLICK]3. Have great tasteOf course most people don’t have taste but it’s our job to cultivate it.[CLICK]4. Aspire to create memes – They will determine your ROI Build constructs that enable you to source ideas from different systems. Don’t keep going to the same well. A big idea can come from anywhere. [CLICK] 5. Put the audience IN the idea[CLICK]6. Tell a story that engages your audience. It’s the only way we really connect[CLICK]7. Have the courage to actually think big
  • Thank you for joining me today. Here’s where you can find me and Protagonist, if what I talked about today got you excited. And I hope you enjoy the rest of the day!

Transcript

  • 1. BIG IDEA
  • 2. THE POWER OF A MEME
  • 3. A MEME ISN’T ALWAYS A BIG IDEA.BUT A BIG IDEA IS ALWAYS A MEME.
  • 4. ANATOMY OF A BIG IDEA
  • 5. OUR BRAINS ARE WIRED FOR STORYTELLING
  • 6. TODD SAWICKICHIEF REVENUE OFFICERCHEEZBURGER NETWORK (ICHC)“Achieving meme status is the ultimate qualitative measureof a brand’s marketing efforts. If your marketing becomes ameme, you have real reach and a unique cultural relevancethat you can’t buy.”
  • 7. HOW DO YOU KNOW IF AN IDEA IS BIGA big idea is something that moves the prevailing cultureforward. It’s deeply embedded in the culture, and it replicates.Big ideas transform positively the way consumers engage withand perceive a brand.Big ideas have an imprinting power. They keep the brand alivein the consumer’s mind even when the campaign is no longerpresent.
  • 8. Let us prove to the world that goodtaste, good art, good writing can be goodselling.
  • 9. SEPTEMBER 2, 1986A BLACK DAY FOR ADVERTISINGAND BIG IDEAS
  • 10. HOLDING COMPANIES SURVIVE BY FAVORINGCOST CONTAINMENT AND AUTOMATION OVERRISK-TAKING AND CREATIVITYTHE COMPETITION WILL ALWAYS OFFER TOUNDERCUT YOUR BUDGETCLIENTS BELIEVE THEIR SURVIVAL RELIES ONREPLICABLE STRUCTURAL AND COMMODITIZEDPRACTICES
  • 11. WE ARE A BRAND ENERGY COMPANY.
  • 12. WE ENERGIZE BRANDS FROM NEOPHYTE TO ICONIC
  • 13. THERE ARE BAD IDEAS
  • 14. Rules for Conceiving of a Big Idea1. Mine the culture for your brief (and write the brief yourself)2. Accept ideas from everyone and everywhere3. Have great taste4. Aspire to create memes5. Put the audience in the idea6. Tell an engaging story7. Have the courage to actually think big
  • 15. @protagonistweetmpl@protagonist.tv8421 Wilshire Blvd. • 3rd Floor • Beverly Hills • California • 90211323.655.0363MATTI LESHEM