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Is The “Big Idea” Over?

Plus Company panel at Cannes

No one big idea can win the day in a marketplace that demands agility

Comms pros have all watched Mad Men’s Don Draper walk into a conference room, deliver a brilliant pitch and save the day. But what if the notion of “the big idea” is as outdated at the three-martini lunch?

In this podcast, Josh Budd, chief creative officer, NA, Citizen Relations and Jaime Pescia, VP, global creative & brand engagement, Little Caesars Pizza talked about how the pressure to deliver “the big idea” can hinder creativity and actually be harmful to the collaborative process. 

With a myriad of platforms to consider,  comms pros can no longer expect one theme to work across every channel.  Savvy comms pros have shifted from “the big idea” to a “creative seed” approach that allows the message to suit the channel. 

 “We're at the speed of whatever is happening in the market,” said Pescia. “An underlying seed of an idea that can be grown and matured throughout different types of media at the same time or at very different times is what makes the creative process strong for our brand.”

Budd and Pescia discussed how the role of the chief creative officer has shifted, the agility that is required in this new era of ever-changing media platforms and what’s needed for creative teams to work cooperatively.

Co-operation and co-creation are the goal

“There's definitely a crossover in work that's being done,” said Pescia. “Co-creation is really important because it helps us maintain the brand in the right way and it gives everybody an opportunity to make sure something works the way it needs to in a particular market.”

Budd noted that the best work results from comms teams who stay focused on “delivering amazing work for clients and having fun doing respectful, interesting work.” They agreed that keeping competition between teams at a healthy rather than harmful level produces the best results. “If you're always trying to take a little bit of someone else's lunch, you're not fully focused on what you should be focused on,” said Budd.

A co-creation mindset worked well for Little Caesars when it launched its first global promotion around the most recent Batman movie. “The co-creation started with a TikTok idea that everybody wants to be a hero,” said Pescia. The casting call on TikTok was to showcase how people were living up to the Batman ideal in their everyday lives. Then each market played off the idea of how bringing home the pizza can make you a hero.

While comms pros may find the profusion of new platforms more confusing, the opportunities inherent in those new platforms are certainly exciting. Budd cautioned that while comms pros need to be on top of new media, the need to be strategic has never been more important.

Diversity of channel expertise is critical

“Every day there's a new channel on the horizon that you need to get up to speed with. It behooves an agency to have diversity of expertise at the table, people who understand the role of the channel and how it integrates within the larger picture,” he said. “There is an inferred obligation to be everywhere, keep up with your competitors and know what the market is doing. But those who stay laser focused on their objectives don't necessarily have to show up everywhere all the time.” 

Working smarter and more nimbly is the key to success in this ever-shifting marketplace. “We've traditionally been all television advertising at Little Caesars, so we made a huge investment shift in our media dollars to be more digital and across different platforms. We're still in the testing phase to get to our sweet spot, but that shift has impacted our business in a positive way in the last few years,” said Pescia.

Nurture the talent

Internally, there’s also been a shift in how businesses are focusing on keeping their creative teams sustainable.

“Creative does have a bad rap of burning people out,” said Budd “As society has recalibrated, there’s a refreshed perspective of balancing what's important professionally and personally and making sure you're focused on the objective of the task and not just blazing forward at all costs.”

“The work moves fast, but it's important to the business to make sure that I support my team in the right way and find different ways to inspire them. A bit of pizza always helps,” said Pescia.


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