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Anything Is Possible

Posted on December 22, 2011 and read 2,953 times

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troy scarlott Anything Is PossibleTroy Scarlott

The holidays are upon us. And I have been good this year. Very good. (My wife may disagree yet she still went along with it.) So I decided to cross an item off my bucket list and purchase a 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster. My Speedster is a replica as the real deal is a bit pricey. I have been driving my Speedster for a few months and I love it. It’s pure fun. I take it out whenever possible as it’s the perfect little car for SoCal weather, 72 and sunny. The car was supposed to be a toy; something to shield me from my impending mid-life crisis, and also reduce the stress of agency deadlines and new business pitches. My Speedster was supposed to be my “Calgon, take me away!” vehicle that would literally and figuratively remove me from work. What I found was something much different. My Speedster did the exact opposite. It brought me closer to my work and taught me a valuable lesson, one that applies to my creative career in advertising. Now, isn’t that ironic?

We live in the digital space, consistently developing ideas and initiatives for our clients. If you walk around our agency, you will probably hear the following comments emanating from our brainstorm rooms, “Can we do this?” and then, of course, “How do we do it?” Surrounded by digital experts, it’s not surprising that I learn something new every day. Literally. From mobile app development to location based search, from backend web development to fMRI research (fMRI? Look that one up and you can learn something new today, too.), we are always pushing to innovate and striving to learn about the next big digital thing. We spend endless hours crafting and refining to make our clients happy and be successful.

Yet it took my little black Speedster to bring me back to my New York advertising roots and teach me a valuable lesson. And it’s a simple one.

Every time I take my Speedster out for a spin, I inevitably find myself engaging with people. They usually start with a smile, a nod or a thumbs up, and then progress with a few comments:  I love your car! What year is it? Beautiful! I am so jealous. I want one. Where did you get it? How long have you had it? Black on black. Gorgeous.

The simple lesson is that my Speedster moves people. It makes a distinct impression. People take time to look at it. Comment on it. Ask about it. Even touch it. And it’s always a positive experience for them. Last week, an older woman approached me after I parked my Speedster on a busy street in Venice. She had a huge smile and gently ran her hand over the lines of the car. She glowed as she asked about the car. Our conversation was short and polite. The car may have reminded her of an early time or an important person in her life. Either way, I know the mere experience of my Speedster moved her. It made her walk up and strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger. It motivated her to glide her hand over the hood. It engaged her completely and I think gave her joy and happiness in that brief moment.

That experience taught me a simple lesson and made me focus on my goal as a creative director. The advertising executions that we create every day must move people. They have to evoke an emotion. They must hold people, if just for a moment. We all strive to create great ideas, yet we must do more than that. Our goal needs to be more focused, and we need to strive to create moments in time for our consumers. These moments can be small, short or seemingly insignificant in the course of a day. They must be unique and positive. Engaging and compelling. Thoughtful and memorable. They must move the consumer to think, act, laugh, even cry.

Moving people is now more important than ever. The average person is bombarded with over 3000+ advertising messages per day.

Think about that for a second. Three. Thousand. Ads. Per. Day. That’s a lot of competition vying for a person’s attention.

Thinking about my Speedster and the affect it has on people helps me focus on the consumer. And specifically, to figure out what it’s going to take to get them to pay attention. To remember. To move them.

The answer, of course, is not so simple. It could be the big idea or a clever execution. It could be a video that is just hilarious. It could be a digital experience that strikes a chord. It could be a campaign that hits on a human truth. Or it could be an app that is simple and useful.

It could be anything. Anything.

I believe the word “anything” is what got me into the creativity business in the first place. Everyday, I have the opportunity to look at a blank piece of paper and come up with anything. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “What about the brief, the tiny budget, the tight schedule and the 12 clients?” That stuff is a given and I believe that “anything” still applies. “Anything” is the daily motivation that drives creative people to do what we do: to create something that never existed before.

In my process, I continually think about my Speedster, the woman in Venice and the countless others who were moved by it. It helps me look at every advertising execution with a renewed focus. I ask myself, will this execution move someone?

If it won’t, I rev up my Speedster and go for a drive. It usually moves me to think of a new idea or a new execution. Anything will do.

speedster Anything Is Possible




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