R Sridhar
Jun 12, 2017

Opinion: Idea is to an agency, what breathing is to a human being

'Staying tuned is the name of the game' according to the author

Opinion: Idea is to an agency, what breathing is to a human being
The moment you say ‘idea’ in an agency everyone thinks of the creative department. That is natural. But what most people don’t know is how ideas drive the entire agency business. Not just the creative department, Account managers, Planners, Media heads, Film production, Outdoor, Accounts, every nook and corner of the agency must breathe ideas. Because anyone can have an idea and it can come from anywhere. 
Imagine this scenario. Chairman of a client company, briefs the account executive. He wants the agency to present a 60 cc recruitment ad for the Times Of India, the next day. The agency presents a full page advertisement instead. Audacious? Yes. Crazy? Yes. Angry client? No.
The agency had thought through the client’s need and created a full page instead. The ad doubled as a corporate ad as well. The ad was helpful to prospective employees. It not only asked them to apply but also showed how to succeed in the written test and the interview. It guaranteed an appointment letter within 24 hours.  If they cleared the test and the interview. Client had always done this but never talked about. It was the agency, which spotted an opportunity here and made a courageous recommendation. 
As the agency team was leaving for the meeting, the media guy had an idea. Make the ad in 45cm X 8 columns instead 54 cm X 8 columns. No other ad could be placed in the vacant space. We would get the impact of a full page without paying the full price. This little extra proved to be the clincher.
I have spent 30 years in the agency business. I have found out that the agency is truly democratic when it comes to ideas. Winning managers have their antennae up all the time. An idea could pop up in the lift, in the canteen and sometimes… I leave that to your imagination.
Successful agencies go beyond the client brief and think of ideas that make sense for the brand. It is like a veritable idea factory. Ideas that move forward always do things for the brand. Get visibility. Generate trial. Build loyalty. Build reputation. Whatever.
Idea is the most valuable currency in the agency business. Ideas appear anytime, anywhere to anyone. Staying tuned is the name of the game.
Ideation teaches you to keep looking. Stay tuned. Pick up ideas with potential and make them big. Not every idea comes from a formal ideation session. In an agency almost every conversation is like an ideation session. 
You keep hearing the wackiest of ideas with a prefix. “What if..”. “Why not..”. “Suppose…”. “If only..”. “Just imagine…”. These prefixes give everyone a license to think of the most bizzare possibilities.
And it is not enough if you had a great idea. You have to have a plan of how you are going to pitch it to the decision maker and get it through.
Ideation in agency is about the ability to think of an idea at the press of a button. Almost. Ideation is also the ability to get up before the count of 10 and think of new ideas if your idea is rejected.
It is a different world out there.  
(R Sridhar is a renowned innovation facilitator, consultant and coach, who recently launched his
book 'Unlock the Real Power Of Ideation'.)
Campaign India

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