What’s The Big Idea?

June 24, 2008 | blog | By Mike Sullivan
Ever look around and where the big ideas are? Where the answers are? Where the solutions went? Gasoline is going through the roof. Health care is too expensive. Airlines can’t fly profitably and home values are flying south for the summer. Every time you turn on the news, there’s a bigger issue than the day before and there don’t seem to be too many people throwing their hands up to help fix the problem.

Are you listening to the political discourse? Rather than come up with new ideas, it seems the candidates would rather debate 2.0 and 2.1 versions of what exists now. Peel away the onion layers of spin, interpretation, innuendo and outright misrepresentation and in most cases, you’ll find there’s very little, if anything, there in the way of a productive idea. Why is that exactly? Have we lost our ability to think of something new, and fresh, and different?

No, I don’t think so. But I do think we need reminding of that from time to time.

Last week, I spoke with a member of the Denver Ad League about a new awards show they conceived to reward the best ideas in the Denver advertising community. Rather than having agencies submit traditional executions in hundreds of different categories, the Denver Ad League challenged its members to submit “fresh, effective ideas that present brands to consumers in new and relevant ways…Ideas conceived, nurtured, or defended against the odds of mediocrity.”

Once received, an all-star panel of creative directors from some of the best agencies in the country chose the Top 50 biggest ideas and those were celebrated at an event and in a commemorative annual. The 50 is now the benchmark for creatives in Denver. It’s exclusive. It’s special. And it’s focused. It’s all about the best ideas. Who had them and who brought them to life.

Doing what each of us does in the ad business, it’s easy to get caught up in execution. In dictate. In legal. In minutia. In revision after revision after revision after revision. It’s easy to lose sight of the very reason we exist in the first place. To solve problems. To engage consumers. To bring our brands to life and make a connection with the people buying them. And in those moments when a truly great idea rings with the clarity of a crystal bell, there is nothing greater. In that moment, all things are possible. All solutions are viable. And even for a moment, the shackles of “That’s impossible” and “No, you can’t” are replaced by “Yes, we can” and “Watch us go!”

The power of the big idea is undeniable. And whether for a brand, or a country, it is the engine that drives us forward. It is that which sets us apart.

It is, quite simply, what makes us great.

Topics: Marketing


Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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