I am a firm believer in in-depth research. The more you know about your subject and your audience, the better the chances are that you will find the distinctive feature to set your product apart from its competitors and make it a star. Once you’ve found that unique quality, the creative rendition will be much easier to come about. And it will be much stronger, too.
Take the example of Bikram’s Yoga ad campaign. For many years I was a regular to the Furnace, as we liked to call the 40 C/110 F hot room. I credit it for having kept me in good shape and health, even though the heat was at times unbearable. I sweated profusely and on a few occasions—at the brink of passing out—had the disturbing vision of my sweat turning into fat. And that thought materialized itself into a distinctive visual that prompted two more.
Without my immersion in the Furnace, I wouldn’t have had the insight for this campaign.
I believe in a brainstorming process where egos are temporarily pushed aside to make room for non-judgemental evaluation and the building upon each others’ ideas. Every single grain of an idea is worth our attention. You never know what particular word, phrase or visual will fire up a chain reaction that will eventually lead to production.
It is crucial, therefore, to have a knack for spotting the grain of a big idea regardless of where it came from and nurture it to realization. I’d like to think that in the course of all these years I have cultivated this ability. Still, it’s a tough balancing act of heeding the wildest ideas and at the same time propelling the creative discussion towards a fully fledged result.
That was indeed the case with the award-winning TV spot for Sure Check Pregnancy Test. After a week of barren idea generation, one female colleague shared a weird dream she’d had just the night before. It featured storks as jury members in a court of justice accusing her boyfriend. Once this visual was out of the bag, it unleashed a landslide of elaborations and refinements. Can the storks be singing instead? Why not stork soldiers in a drill? After that session, the ad was practically done. In addition to actively participating in the brainstorming, I provided the slogan for the video, as well as my voice for the storks’ song.
Throughout my career I’ve worked with some very talented people. I value them highly because, by providing healthy competition and constructive criticism, they have constantly pushed me to excel. I rarely hesitate to seek help on some technical matter or feedback to my ideas. And it goes the other way around too — nothing fulfills me as much as empowering people with knowledge and skills.
In that sense, teamwork is not just a cliché; it is a matter of my growth as a creative professional. As a result, my co-workers and I produce something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
At the same time, I value being able to develop projects independently. To me, any ad creative should strive to develop as many skills and in-depth knowledge of the process as possible. That makes team play more efficient, brainstorming more productive, and, ultimately, enhances the potential to go the extra mile in achieving goals.
Being versatile and with a hands-on approach is, therefore, of the utmost importance to me. It allows me to come up with a finished work to present to my peers, and to initiate discussion. Apart from the TV commercials, this is how I created most of my ads and design works.
It was the hands-on approach and going the extra mile that gave birth to the visuals of the Bikram’s yoga ads. I was involved in every part of the process: from literally carving and smoothing out the butter shape to kneading, rolling and piecing together the bits of dough. And then, put it on the stove, shot it with my DSLR, retouched it in Photoshop, and finally put it all together in InDesign.