Innovation tools from award-winning commercials

Recently I attended a conference where one of the speakers, Ravid, was talking about innovation tools. It was one of the best and most practical sessions I attended. He works for a company called the Mindscapes. What this company does is analyze all award-winning commercials and separates them into the groups of commercials with similar patterns. They turn those patterns into innovation tools that other agencies and companies can use in order to come up with their own creative ideas and campaigns.

He says that 81% of Grand Prix and Gold in Cannes awards use identified patterns.

For examples, take a look at this campaigns:

Volvo used the AI in their car to interview new candidates for job positions at their company. The candidate would get into the car and the car, instead of an HR person, was questioning them. Cool, right?

The second example: when United moved to EWR (Newark) airport, they wanted to show that it takes you less time to go to the Newark airport from any point in the city than to the JFK. How? Well, take a look:

What is the pattern for these two commercials? They go beyond saying or telling, but let people experience themselves what they want to tell them.

The innovation tool is called SELF VALIDATION.

Whatever you are promoting, let people experience it, don’t just tell them or talk about that.

During the workshop, there was time to practice each innovation tool, which was very useful. It makes you think in a different way.

There are few other great commercials we analyzed. For example, Samsonite had a great way to solve a problem of not knowing how heavy your bag is. They created a name tag which breaks if your bag is too heavy:

Berlin metro company BVG had an awesome campaign. They wanted to solve the problem that millennials did not like their public transport at all. They were showing disrespect toward the metro line, wouldn’t buy tickets and they were even leaving graffiti and stickers at the stations. BVG decided to create a campaign in cooperation with one of their target group’s favorite shoe brand – Adidas. They designed a shoe that has BVG colors and signage on it, and that looks very trendy. But the shoe wasn’t just a shoe – it was a ticket shoe. Whoever bought this pair of sneakers, they also bought a yearly train ticket. The target group loved it.

Another company, Asics, had a very creative campaign in which they helped people learn which type of running shoes they need. They used special paper for their magazine ad – when you step on it, it shows you which kind of foot you have and based on that you can know which kind of running shoes you need.

What do these commercials have in common? What is the pattern?

All three commercials are using something in an unusual way. Samsonite use nametag as weight checker, BVG uses shoes as train tickets and Asics uses magazine paper ad as a tool to measure which kind of foot you have.

The innovation tool is called NEW TASKING.

It means that you need to use what already exists and what you already have and give it a new task, use it in a new, unexpected way. The best way to do this is to create a list of resources you can give a new task to.

First, we should learn to look at things in a bit different way. For example, a bottle of water doesn’t have to be just that – it has many different parts that can be given different tasks – for example, the cap can be used for measuring if you have alcohol in your blood when you blow in it. The tag can be showing if the content of the bottle is warm or cold. The bottle can also have an additional task – to check how many times you took it and based on that to calculate if you are hydrated enough. It’s amazing what can be done with technology, creativity, and innovation.

If you want to use this tool – make sure to first list all the things that you have as resources and then think about what can be given a new, unexpected task.

The third tool which was a bit harder to practice, but is very interesting is called SABOTAGE/REMOVE.

We tend to always add something – an additional feature, to give something to customers, but let’s see how we can remove or sabotage our brand and make a great campaign out of it.

VW wanted to show that their Amarok was a really powerful vehicle, ready for challenging terrains. People would not buy it when they see it, as it was looking a bit fancy, so they rather bought other truck brands. VW masked their Amarok so that it was not recognizable and gave it to professionals to test it. It performed great, a lot better than competitors so they published videos online and have people guessing which truck it is. No one thought it was Amarok. When they revealed the truth, the sale of the car rose and the commercial won the award, of course 🙂

Another example where this tool was used: Shazam, in cooperation with World Health Organization, wanted to raise awareness that listening to music too loud can damage your hearing, so they decided to make Shazam deaf for a day.

REI, a brand for outdoor equipment decided to close their stores for Black Friday – the day when most shopping takes place. As they sell clothes and equipment for outdoor activities, they decided to let their employees go outside and promote outdoor activities on the day when most people go shopping. This got them a lot of free media attention:

The point is to do something creative and sabotage your brand. Decide not the sell your products on the day when everyone goes crazy about shopping, or to sabotage the service you are providing – listening and recognizing the song, or make a commercial for a car without stating your own brand. If done correctly, this tool can give us great creative campaigns, but we should be very careful with it as we don’t want to do any damage to our brand.

The entire text is just a short snippet from the workshop and session I attended. I really loved it, found it very interesting and useful and wanted to share. If I worked for an agency, I would definitely hire the Mindscapes to teach us all the tools and different way of thinking and looking at things. This is not a paid post, just my honest opinion.

If you liked the text and found it useful, feel free to share it and subscribe to my newsletter here. You can read about highlights from conference here or from last year’s Web Summit here.

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