Big Ideas (Meatball Mondae 11)

In a factory-based organization, little ideas are the key to success. Small improvements in efficiency or design can improve productivity and make a product just a bit more appealing. New Marketing, which exists in the noisy marketplace, demands something bigger. It demands ideas that force people to sit up and take notice.

At the same time that we see how game-changing ideas (like the iPhone) can trump little improvements, we’re also noting the end of the “big idea” in advertising.

There’s a difference between a big idea that comes from a product or service and a big idea that comes from the world of advertising.

The secret of big-time advertising during the 1960s and ’70s was the “big idea.” In A Big Life in Advertising, ad legend Mary Wells Lawrence writes, “… our goal was to have big, breakthrough ideas, not just to do good advertising. I wanted to create miracles.” A big idea could build a brand, a career, or an entire agency.

Charlie the Tuna was a big idea. So was “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.”

Big ideas in advertising worked great when advertising was in charge. With a limited amount of spectrum and a lot of hungry consumers, the stage was set to put on a show. And the better the show, the bigger the punchline, the more profit could be made.

Today, the advertiser’s big idea doesn’t travel very well. Instead, the idea must be embedded into the experience of the product itself. Once again, what we used to think of as advertising or marketing is pushed deeper into the organization. Let the brilliant ad guys hang out with your R&D team and watch what happens.

Yes, there are big ideas. They’re just not advertising-based.

The whole series is here.