They’re Cleverer Than You’ll Ever Be

As a budding trying-but-not-really-doing-well-at-all creative, it’s hard to stomach when you see something and have that ‘Oh crap, why didn’t I think of that?’ moment. At times it can be genuinely heart breaking. I’ve seen ideas that I scribbled down and binned up on ninety four sheet billboards in the centre of Manchester, and all I can do is curse myself. Obviously, the ads up in big were done by creative teams with an actual brief they were working to, and wasn’t written on the back of a napkin at Barburrito. I may have worked on something for hours, unbeknownst to myself that this brand new sparkling press ad I’m slaving over has not only been done by someone else, but their implementation is at least one hundred times better.

I had the same problems when I dabbled in graphic design. In the age of the internet where anyone and everyone can download a copy of Photoshop and call themselves a graphic designer, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd and do something entirely original. It is becoming more and more difficult to come up with something new. Obviously with a little work and research, newness is possible, but it still smarts when your idea has been ‘taken’ by a complete stranger before it’s even got off the ground. I imagine everyone who works in the ‘idea’ business has felt like this at one point.

Now let’s get this straight, I don’t mean to sound bitter. In such a fast moving world with information available at the click of a mouse, or the tap of a finger, it’s up to us to make sure our ideas are the best, newest, sparkliest and more original than the next guys. If it has happened to me from my front room workshop, then it’s almost certainly happened to creatives in agencies worldwide, but what happens when a creative has a brief, tackles it, gets it through past a client and out in the world, only for a random guy in the bum-fuck of nowhere to one up them just for shits and giggles? Does it attract attention to the product at hand? Does it make the client think about moving agencies? Or are we again, stuck with the phrase, all publicity is good publicity?

Fruit Ninja is an iPhone game released by a company called Halfbrick. Your one aim in life, is to slice the ever living shit out of bits of fruit. Their website embeds a youtube advertisement which they made themselves. It’s not very good. In fact, it’s pretty rubbs.

It does the job all right. It advertises the new game and answers the main question as to why you’re a ninja, and why the hell you’re using your time to slice fruit; Hatred. This campaign hardly had a huge amount of money behind it. In fact, I imagine it was the programmers having a bit of fun for a quick snippet of self promotion. For the sake of this post, let me assume that the advert was actually made by someone in an agency. They were given the Fruit Ninja account, and that’s what they came up with. The client was happy, and the creatives got paid. All seems to be going well, until this. Some one runs with this same idea of Fruit Ninja, and absolutely blasts the hell out of the original advert.

These two videos were made by a comedy collective who do nothing else except make funny videos. They’re both quite brilliant, and genuinely funny. Slap a ‘buy now’ banner at the end of them, and you’ve got something that’s at least ten times better than Fruit Ninja’s original advert. Obviously as noted earlier, all publicity is good publicity, and maybe more people will purchase the game because of these ads. That makes the client happy, and they’ll probably encourage other users to do the same, as we all know the wonders that an ad going viral will bring to a product.

I guess the question I’m left with is this, how does the original creative feel? The one that pitched the ‘Ninjas Hate Fruit’ idea. The guy who spent hours labouring over that campaign, giving it a nip-tuck after every meeting, and caring for his idea like a new born child. There must be some form of resentment, again boiling down to the ‘crap, why didn’t I think of that?’ problem. I imagine it’s ten times worse after a client changes agencies, and your previous ads are blown apart by the new agency, who are cheaper, younger, and do things you would never think of doing. What can a person do? You’re left with one choice, which is to pick yourself up, start again, and be, well, better.

As creatives, we really need to stand with our finger on the pulse of the world. If anything, we need to be creating memes before they happen, seeing the new hot ‘viral’ video before it’s even released. We need to know fashion before it’s fashionable, and see movies before they’re made. You need to be ready to one-up the new guy who comes along with the latest edition Macbook with an eye on your jobs. You need to try to one up the guy who does nothing else except write a blog, research his work, and knows the internet inside out. You need to one up guys like The Misunderstoods, who can smash your ideas out of the water, just because they thought it was funny. And hopefully, at one point or another, you’ll need to one up a guy like me.

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