Thursday, 11 November 2010

Surprise, Surprise

I always look forward to the IPA Excellence Diploma essays that come in a supplement with Campaign. I commented on the last lot here and I've just read the four that achieved distinction this year.

Tim Jones of BBH has a great new metaphor for a brand - instead of all those onions and keys, he's looked at gaming as a way of moving from brands as message transmission devices to behaviour change systems.

And, maybe influenced by a game or two, Simon Robertson of Dare believes that brands should embrace their Dark Side. I'm not convinced that it must always be the Dark Side, but I'm convinced that brands need an edge, a quirk, a bit that doesn't fit.

What really got me was that two of the essays, both excellent, seem at first sight to contradict each other. Sarah Morning of Agency Republic argued for the counterpart to the spatial-based Big Idea in the temporal-based Long Idea, with the reintroduction of myth and ritual into the digital world. And then James Hamilton of McCann Erikson argues the case for putting surprise and serendipity back into marketing, believing that our lives are increasingly predictable as we're driven more and more by algorithms that tell us what to read, watch, know....?

But both can be part and parcel of one brand and its communications - and maybe this is the trick. IKEA comes to mind, surprise, surprise. There are new ideas, surprising products, inspirational combinations. But the elements of ritual from KNUT to following to arrows to the hot dog at the end are there too. A seeming paradox but the key to success.

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