PromaxBDA: Risk-Talking vs Risk-Taking

Posted By Joel Pilger on June 18, 2012 06:52 am | Permalink
Day three at PromaxBDA 2012 saw many of us attendees conceding we are mere mortals; after several days of non-stop overload, my creative director Brian Eloe here is having a Red Bull alongside his Stella Artois. Yes, a stimulant and a depressant, all in one. Welcome to Promax week.

So looking back on the amazing week that was PromaxBDA 2012, what did we witness? What did we learn? How will we put it to good use?

Innovation or Novelty?

In just about every session you heard the word "innovation." No doubt, there was some amazing, innovative work on display this year. But what separates true "innovation" from its inferior cousin, "novelty"?

As we -- clients or vendors, networks or agencies -- actually taking risks or merely talking risk? When facing a rebrand, or promo campaign, or an upfront, the challenge is often the same: be remarkable, get attention, move the needle, satisfy the brief. 

Going into the process, I've heard countless network execs tell me and my brand-building production company, "We want a big idea!" when all they were really prepared to deal with was an old idea with a twist. After all, old ideas that work are safe. And if we add a little twist, we've all accomplished something "innovative." You see the irony here.

Certainly, beautiful and flashy visuals will catch our eyes. But is trendy design in and of itself innovative? Startling or shocking subject matter that we've never seen before will grab our attention. But is our definition of innovative simply just "new"?

Standing Out. And Standing the Test of Time.

"New" can command attention in the short-term. But only your "why" - your values, what you believe -- can command viewer loyalty in the long-term. Brands that have both, do both: they stand out and they stand the test of time.

Brands that have built empires have not been mere masters at "new" and "fresh" and "trendy." They command our allegiance because while they were busily reinventing themselves, they were also speaking to us about their values -- which almost never change.

My friend, Markus Schmidt of United Senses, likens a brand to a tanker ship. Once you steer it in a specific direction, "It takes time to turn it." As it should.

Let's eschew "new" in exchange for true innovation. And let's never lose touch with the "why" behind our companies and our brands. Commit to never-ending innovation combined with undying devotion to your timeless "why." At the intersection of those two lies our viewers' real relationships with our brands. And our success.

Joel Pilger is President and Founder of Denver-based Impossible (