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The brainstorm battlefield: do mad ideas still work?

Lets look at idea generation from the Mad Men era to today. The brainstorming process is an integral part of agency life and to some it can feel like a daunting war zone. But when successfully navigating your way through the battlefield of the brainstorm, it can bring to life more overriding positives than any other agency activity. Despite the brainstorms positive ability to make a combination of ideas into a fully versed campaign, its a method that can often bring to life the festering negativities of agency life. A brainstorm for many reinforces feelings of torment or inadequacy against peers, and heightens the terror in sharing a creative seed with the numerous faces around the table. The fear of your idea being shot down is one that can resonate for long time. The brainstorm truly can be a battlefield. The brainstorm concept was developed in the 1940s in an era when the ad agency really burst onto the scene. Those who have seen Mad Men will understand the picture. A table of suit laden professional men sit around a boardroom table and smoke their Lucky Strikes while bottles of whisky are consumed like water. Notably absent were the women. Unless a lady like Peggy Olson manages to fight her way through the sneers and pre-conceptions to make it to the table, she would be overlooked just because of her sex. Nowadays, having a mix of genders, ages, backgrounds and opinions is critical to a successful brainstorm, and a trick lost during the Mad Men era. As an agency we have really developed our brainstorms. Historically, we too would sit around a table with only those who had the confidence to speak up being heard, and those who were shy sitting in silence. It didnt take long to realise that the process negated positive ideas and was conducive to a vicious cycle of repetitive brainstorms and stilted concepts. These days we are all about fun, fun and more fun. The brainstorm now consists of a big team building exercise encouraging small groups to interact and integrate, and of course drum up competitiveness. Whether its building a table out of Play Doh or partaking in the longest Lego bridge building contest, or even who can build the highest spaghetti tower out of 30 pieces of spaghetti, a packet of small marshmallows and a strip of masking tape. The game at the beginning is imperative in making the room leave any work day issues at the door and positively refocus. There are some rules that are strictly adhered to. The first is that no idea is a bad idea. Kitsch, but surprisingly, it works. Those who incur negativity will face being wanded by the brain storm facilitator. Our rules go like this:

1. Have fun this is symbolised by a lengthy squirt of silly string. 2. We want quantity not quality yes this is the right way round. We want loads and loads of ideas we can build on. 3. Wacky works we cover this off by a short clip from the cartoon Wacky Races with Penelope Pitstop and ilk. We want really wacky ideas that we can build off of. 4. Build not knock down this is shown as a nice lump of Lego and finally.. 5. No negativity now here we really go to town because anybody being negative is wanded. Whats being wanded? Well it works like this. Around the table there are three different wands and one really special wand. Of the three wands, one makes zapping type noises and is plain brown, another looks like a magic fairy wand and the other is a Ben & Holly Magic Mirror wand that has a lovely picture of Princess Holly and repeats one of five Princess Holly phrases. If you are negative in any manner or form, not just verbal, but the way you sit (arms folded) or even deep seated frustrated sighs, then anyone can zap you with any one of the three wands. Now if you are in a really negative frame of mind and are deemed to be consistently negative then you are pottered out comes Harrys special wand and you cant contribute for five minutes. You may begin to think that our agency is a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. Or you may think were work shy. Neither is true. What might seem off the wall from those looking in are actually surprisingly successful idea generation techniques. Our department teams now drop everything to come together and combine their skills for the sake of ideas, as the way we now conduct them encourages cross division integration. Watching the meek and quiet blossom is always a highlight who knew the youngest member of the agency had such a creative spark? Or that the little mouse in the corner had such weird ideas! In a heady mix of skill sets, ideas spiral and tumble and curve to every corner of feasibility and back again between marketing account managers, PR practitioners, digital programmers and creative. An idea that might usually stall is ignited with the mix of varied thinking caps to fire the creative spark. The ideas of a creative always seemingly differ to those of a PR and again to the account management team. An integrated agency compliments skill sets and brings creativity to the forefront. The fruits of such techniques are seen in many million pound integrated marketing campaigns currently being completed for some of Europes most prestigious brands and retailers. We still see the brainstorm as a battlefield; however it is now an open battle as opposed to the same faces and same ideas as it was back in the Mad Men era.

For more information on BWP Group visit www.bwpgroup.com Biography BWP group chairman Chris Webb In 1995, Chris co-founded the international communications agency BWP Group. He has grown the agency year-on-year, adding creative, digital and PR divisions BWP Create, BWP Enthuse and BWP Primal to provide an integrated offering to clients such as O2, Telefonica, IKEA, intu and KPMG. Prior to setting up BWP Group, Chris spent seven years as managing director of Mexx UK, three years as sales and marketing director of Lillywhite Sports, nine years with Pretty Polly Hosiery Grocery Division where he was promoted to general manager and three years with Nestle, one of the worlds top blue chip companies. - See more at: http://blog.themarketer.co.uk/2013/11/the-brainstorm-battlefield-domad-ideas-still-work/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thebrainstorm-battlefield-do-mad-ideas-still-work#sthash.sUqbonHF.dpuf

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