Day dreaming

March 11, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

No brief.

No outline.

No beginning.

No deadline.

No target audience.

No focus group.

No responsibility.

So essential.

So purposeful.

So valuable.

So liberating.

So easy.

So hard.

So alive.

So much R.O.I.


The big idea isn’t dead; it’s just smashed into millions of itsy bitsy pieces.

March 9, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The most dramatic change since I started in advertising is the big idea. In the hallways and conference rooms, that’s all you heard: “You got a big idea? Client is demanding a big idea.” We would work nights, weekends, lunches, coming up with the single-minded, iconic, brain-straining idea that would be the center of all the work. Now the big part of the big idea is that it would have to be so insightful, so expressive that it could be long lasting in the marketplace. That’s a lot of pressure on an idea and the people who were charged to come up with it. I must say I learned a great deal and still apply the intense training and scrutiny that went into coming up with those ideas. I wrote the line for the New York Stock Exchange, “The world puts its stock in us.” which was used for more than a decade because trust and fidelity must always be part of any financial institution.

In those days an idea with a lifespan of three to five years was the goal. Those were the ones that would run again and again with just resizing here and there. The longer it could last, the bigger. It was if the product, the competitive situation, the consumer was stationary, frozen, stunned timeless. A target that was a sitting duck. Hard to believe, right?

Take the Marlboro man. He was one such big idea – man, horse, sagebrush, logo. Welcome to Marlboro country. An emotional territory. Ran years and years without a change in TV, print, outdoor, POS, events. Sometimes he would ride the horse, sometimes he’d walk at its side, but that was it.

Today it’s about a lot of little ideas – tons, thousands of them, generating and regenerating connections – all energized with consumer insight and relevance, customized to the media in which it’s delivered, the time delivered, the specific audience delivered to and from again and again. Lots of small ideas, emanating from a bigger idea, packaged to travel anywhere at any time.

A big idea without the tentacles, the ability to scurry to multiple directions to many locations, is too slow, too clumsy, too asthmatic to keep pace with the consumer’s voracious appetite for more: more unique, more personal, more more. Due to the ability to see them all over, ideas can overstay their welcome fast, get outdated, become irrelevant, stale instantly. Bad for the brand.

Small is the new big. Lots and transmutable is the new focused.

Warning: this small is a bigger drain on the talent pool than the old big was. So it’s critical to find big and small thinkers and lots of small doers. And they have to love making the stuff (makes you think of Santa’s workshop with the elves). If they are passionate about connecting with consumers and generating ideas for and together with them, then it’s energizing. Then it’s a high (makes me think of those three-martini lunches of yore).

There’s a big upside for me from the old days of the single big event. Compared to now, they were lonely, self-involved, stagnant times. Just like we imagined our consumer to be. I’m big on small.


What goes into an idea?

February 23, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Every idea has its creator in it. The uninspired idea has nothing more.

A good idea has its own self in it as well; its voice, mission.

A great idea has other voices in it. The client’s, the consumer’s, the brand’s, the product’s. They all have to be attached to it, to hear themselves in it, and deeply want to, since it is a great idea.

The grow! idea has all these voices in it plus it has the power to make people act.

It guides, changes, improves, breeds.

If you have one of those, know two things: it’s not yours alone and you should celebrate all for having it come to life.


They killed my great big idea – I should give them a raise!

January 25, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @NYCA

I had a great idea – no really, a big, rare, juicy one. It was clear, unique – it was an app for cripes sakes! And for a client who is innovation focused!

I ran to the digital producers, “Get your heads out of your cloud computing and get on this faster than now!”

They did their wireframes. Had some questions – actually doubts: cost, timing.

“I don’t care how much money,” I said, “This is a great idea – do it, now!”

They brought it to strategy and they did some research on the target and had reservations. Actually they thought it was a good idea but not in coordination enough with the rest of the work we were doing.

“Go renegade with me!” I called, charging in no one direction.

They brought in media and they did some data digging – interesting idea as it was the target would be insignificant.

Dead. They killed the idea because it wasn’t a grow! idea.

Lucky me, lucky clients.