The Evolution of the Big Idea [SLIDESHARE]

Edward Boches Professor of Advertising, Mullen

Posted on November 20th 2013

The Evolution of the Big Idea [SLIDESHARE]

Thought I’d share a lecture I threw together for an introductory creative class I teach at BU’s College of Communication. 

I know it’s an overdone topic — The Big Idea, Dead or Alive — but the fact is it will never be resolved and there’s plenty of room for argument on both sides.

If you look at recent efforts — John Lewis Christmas Adverts, My Blood is Red and Black, IBM’s Smarter Planet, Red Bull Stratos — you could argue that big ideas still work, if you define a big idea as something that becomes part of the cultural landscape, generates awareness and conversation among many, endures the test of time (or at least dominates the moment), and needs traditional media or advertising to call attention to it.

On the other hand, if you go back to George Lois’s criteria — that it has to change popular culture (rather than reflect it), transform our language, launch a new business or idea, and “turn the world upside down” — well, then that’s another story.

I would argue that we may never see another Marlboro Man or even a Just Do It. But there are qualities and characteristics of the original big ideas that still make for great, effective, compelling and meaningful advertising in a digital age. On that latter note it’s important to acknowledge that ideas do not have to be digital, they have to work in a time where digital dominates.

Gone are the collective experiences where we all tune into the same thing at the same time, save the Super Bowl and national tragedies. So by definition what we make has to be interesting enough to earn attention; shareable because users are the new medium; usable because value is preferred over messages; and finally customizable so that it works for the individual.

Anyway, take a look if you’re inclined and let me know what you think.


Edward Boches

Professor of Advertising, Mullen

I’m Edward Boches, Professor of the Practice of Advertising at Boston University’s College of Communications where I teach advertising creativity with an emphasis on emerging and digital media. I am also the part-time Chief Innovation Officer (formerly Chief Creative Officer and Chief Social Media Officer) at Mullen, an Ad Age A-List agency I’ve helped build and lead for nearly 30  years.

I consider it my job to constantly hack the system in an effort to inspire change and get people to embrace the new technologies, platforms and consumer behaviors necessary to create cool and relevant ideas for clients and users.

Oh yeah, I'm also a copywriter, dad, husband, road cyclist and a board member at Boulder Digital Works and also at Spring Partners, the people who invented the cool Springpad app.

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