My definition of a big idea - Martin Puris
The importance of a Big Idea, well communicated, cannot be overstated. It’s the beginning of everything, the organizing principle. It’s the flag a company marches behind, it’s the glitter that attracts new customers and the best and brightest recruits, it’s the emotional connection that turns customers into cultists.
Before we go further, I’d like to give you my definition of a Big idea. All Big Ideas have five things in common.
And, they’re compelling.
Now, as you know, I come from the marketing business, specifically the black art of advertising. Advertising — call it marketing communications if you’d prefer — in one form or another is still the primary way that companies present their stories and their ideas to the world. And it’s expected that advertisers will spend well north of $275 billion dollars this year on media alone to do that. Plus the cost of talent and production. So let’s say $300 billion — depending on who’s numbers you want to believe — give or take a few million. In any case, serious money.
The ugly truth is that a large percentage of that money will be wasted on advertising campaigns that are often dull-witted, at best entertaining, but devoid of anything that remotely resembles an insightful, pre-emptive, meaningful, memorable, compelling Big Idea. And it’s not just a loss of money, it’s also a loss of opportunity. Last year, the Toyota corporation spent $1.5 billion dollars on media alone in the U.S. market to leave us with this message: “Let’s go places.”
By any measure, an uninspired set of words that could apply to anything from an airline to a skateboard maker to the New York City transit authority. The campaign first appeared in 2012. My calculator says that adds up to a cumulative investment of $13.5 billion — not including the cost of production and talent. Add 20%.
I find it impossible to believe that Toyota, one of the world’s great manufacturers, has nothing more important to say about itself than “Let’s go places.” It hits none of the marks on our five-point checklist. It’s a painfully small idea to be left with at the end of all that money.
Even though I’ve chosen to pick on Toyota, Toyota is hardly alone. Small, meaningless ideas and disposable, advertising campaigns have become the norm rather than the exception.
Read more on ‘A Big Idea’. (Next article will be published on April 6, 2021)
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