Why You Shouldn't Think Outside of the Box



"It isn't creative unless it sells" Wells, Burnett & Moriarty

It’s commonly thought that creativity implies a freedom to think outside the box or to find a unique idea no one’s yet had.

In fact, creativity does bring new ideas to life; however, creativity ideally works under certain patterns or foundations. In the following article, I’ll share four different foundations that can help any business achieve new heights of creativity.

1. The Inversion Foundation

What would happen if...?

At least theoretically, advertising effectiveness is best when there is some level of intimidation (not too little and not too much).

For example, to show you something you're used to, like milk, and then suddenly suggest it does not exist, thus makes you appreciate the product. The idea is an exaggeration, to avoid the cliché. Thus we highlight the importance of the product.

The inversion foundation is best used when focusing on situations that illustrate the absence of basic products (milk, water, electricity).

The Inversion technique presents a consumer with a “what if” situation, which shows them what life would be like without the basic product. The situation may be funny or absurd. The goal is to create a “sticky” memory association for the consumer that makes them remember the product and its importance in their life.

The inversion tool is not as effective for marketing a basic product that doesn’t offer distinctive features and benefits over similar products.

The following example advertisement deals with an institute that teaches Spanish. The ad focuses on the social aspects of not learning the language, rather than on such benefits as cultural adaptation, the advantage when traveling to Spanish speaking countries, etc.




2. The Unification Foundation

Making New Use of Existing Resources

The unification foundation enlists the use of an existing resource to carry the advertising message. The unification tool allows for creative use of a medium that’s common and taken for granted, using the medium’s specific attributes to focus on the aims of the advertisement. This method helps to instill a focused long-term memory in the consumer’s mind.

National Geographic's escalator ad explains that pretty well:



The Medium Resource as Opportunity

The unification tool uses a common medium in a way that’s not usual or normal, surprising the consumer with a small shock that catches their complete attention. As a result, the consumer will remember the message associated with the product. Each encounter with the product’s message reinforces the long-term memory association with the product.




The Environment of the Medium as a Resource

The unification foundation can also use the environment of the medium as a resource to convey the product’s message in a unique way. Anything in the medium’s environment can be creatively used to promote the product.






3. The Extreme Foundation

A great way to make people remember your campaign is to undertake extreme and unreasonable efforts to maintain a person’s satisfaction or to meet their needs. The actions are considered absurd because the investment made in the product isn’t commensurate with the price paid for it or the value of the product. This type of extreme can be suitable for service companies, which can demonstrate in an absurd way the lengths to which they are able to go in order to take care of their customer’s needs.


The use of extreme efforts factor is recommended in two cases:

  • When the purchase decision for the product in the advertisement will not entail deep thought about the traits of the product or its advantages.

  • When products are not leaders in their category and do not have definitive characteristics of similar products.

Take the message to an extreme place to overcome the problem of cliché.

In the following example, the jeans are so comfortable, that the boy sits on the toilet without pulling them down.



4. The Activation Foundation

The activation foundation is very creative and effective when it succeeds; however, activation is also considered as the pattern which has the highest risk, mainly because not everyone will understand the message.




Duracell's ad is a good example: a bus shelter in Montreal heats up when everyone holds hands.


The activation tool is the most effective when presenting a problem or issue to the viewer. Activation is also useful when making the viewer aware of a solution. In this process, the viewer is invited to take action based on his own assessment of the problem or issue presented.





Each of these foundations provides a creative and unique method to reach consumers. By applying one of these four foundations, your business can achieve greater marketing success.

If you would like to share more ideas from your experience, or if you have any question, please comment here and I’ll do my best to help.

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References:

  • Olenski, S. (2012). “What Makes A TV Commercial Memorable and Effective?”. Forbes

  • Kaliszewski, S. (2013). “Through a Narratalogical Lens: An analysis of the storytelling elements in award-winning advertisements”. The University of Warwick

  • Mazursky D., Goldenberg, J. (2002). “Creativity in Product Innovation”. Cambridge University Press

  • Motwani, D., Agarwal, K. (2013). "Impact of humorous advertisements on customers' behaviour". International Journal of Advanced Research in Management and Social Sciences

  • Solomon, S., Levav, A., Mazursky D., Goldenberg, J. (2009). “Cracking the Ad Code”. Cambridge University Press

  • Goffer, N., Barak, M. (October 2002). “Fostering Systematic Innovative Thinking and Problem Solving: Lessons Education Can Learn From Industry”. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 227-247

  • Cai, C., Xiao, R. (March 2008). “The method for uncoupling design with the aid of systematic inventive thinking”. Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science

  • McDonald's ad

  • Direct TV commercial

  • FedEx ad

  • Nicotine Gum ad

  • Aquasoft ad

  • Ammirati Puris Lintas ad

  • Learn Spanish - Group T ad

  • Swedoor ad

  • National Geographic ad

  • Smint ad

  • Ray Ban ad

  • Duracell ad

DISCLAIMER: We do not own the videos and photos. The article was written for educational purposes.

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© 2021 by Roy Zafrani. All rights reserved.