Thursday, January 3, 2008

Where do ideas come from?

Reading that former BBDO creative head and industry legend Phil Dusenberry passed away recently, I remembered when he came to Minneapolis to address the Art Directors/Copywriters Club back in the early '90s.  After delivering the inevitable speech about creativity and originality being the key to the agency's success, zigging when the others zag, etc., Dusenberry went on to rib their competitors for following BBDO's work on Pepsi and other clients with obviously derivative concepts.  He then showed some of the agency's work, including Pepsi spots that were homages to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Back to the Future," a Pepsi spot that leveraged America's fascination with Cindy Crawford and a Pepsi spot that traded on Michael J. Fox's "Family Ties" character.  

Yes, they're all clever and successful spots that did indeed make Pepsi one of the era's most consistently entertaining advertisers.   But they also exemplify a curious way of thinking among creative types:  Sometimes, what defines originality in advertising is appropriating from sources outside of advertising.

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