Creativity: Discovering the Extraordinary Hidden in the Ordinary

Blah Blah Boring Brand is launching a new product. It is, unequivocally, the most useless, most unappealing product to ever come to market and every time you look at it you want to smash it, then light it on fire, then boil the charred remains in a pool of hydrochloric acid.

But you can’t afford to think that way – it’s your job to come up with concepts for an ad campaign that will help promote this (dreadful) product. Lucky for you, you’ve been practicing your creativity like a good William Bernbach understudy, and you know how to extract polished diamonds from this pile of turds. (I think I might’ve gotten my metaphors a little mixed up there.)

“Properly practiced creativity can make one ad do the work of ten.”

-William Bernbach, advertising creative director, Don Draper arch nemesis

giraffeLook around your home. Look around your office. Look around at a park. Look around at the beach. When you find something that’s useless, or ugly, or boring, try turning it into something that’s useful, or beautiful, or thought-provoking.

Where someone sees a string, try seeing a clothesline. Where someone sees a dirty old bucket, try seeing a bongo drum. Where someone sees a stick, try seeing a giraffe (why the hell not?). You can arrange sticky notes to make a mosaic, you can hang empty bottles to make a wind chime, you can connect clam shell shards to form a fish.

Creative exercises like these might sound childish or silly, and, well, they are. But unlike other activities that one might consider childish, such as playing video games, or setting off firecrackers, or drinking too much at a party and dancing on a pool table and having the pool table collapse underneath you, creating something cool gives you a tangible reward: something cool.

Even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you expected (aka it sucks), at least you tried and most likely learned a thing or two along the way. Besides, looking back, you might start to realize that your favorite part of the activity had nothing to do with the finished product at all…it was the actual creative “work.” The building process. The physical act of bringing your ideas to life.

Just like practicing your sales pitch can help you get better at selling, practicing creativity can help you get better at being creative. When you practice looking for the extraordinary hidden in the ordinary outside the office, discovering it inside the office will (hopefully) become an easier and more natural process.

And with enough practice, even an ad for Blah Blah Boring Brand could be an extraordinary thing.

photo-33“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

-Michelangelo, sculptor, painter, pizza aficionado, ninja turtle

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