We need a new era for award categories

A joy of doing a brainstorm or facilitating an awayday is sparking ideas which sometimes are not directly relevant to the task at hand.

These ideas should always be recognised, captured, and put to good effect.

Last week, while doing a creativity Masterclass at the Association of Health Communications and Marketing (AHCM) we did a session called ‘How to use the London Underground map as a creativity tool’.

The tool worked wonders with many ideas and insights generated on a live working problem.

You need to understand that the creative dynamic is an incremental one, with every idea being a stepping stone taking you somewhere different.

I am not sure how my new mate, Yvonne White, the Communications and Marketing Manager for NHS Coventry got this idea, but it was a great one.

In an age of public sector spending cutbacks awards ceremonies should reflect this new reality.

One constant complaint I have about the communications and marketing industry is having great ideas which deliver great results, but then not follow through and use the campaign again, and again.

Most campaign ideas typically would have several year’s life. In year one you actually learn how not to do something. Yet, if you do not repeat the exercise all the valuable learning is lost.

If ideas were an environmental resource, the PR and marketing industry would be seriously guilty of gross misuse of resources in failing to re-use, or ‘recycle’ as I call it, existing ideas and campaigns.

My ‘Blue Monday’ campaign – where I have enjoyed worldwide success and sought to generate greater awareness of mental health issues – is a great example of a re-used idea.

The idea – of a day ostensibly labelled ‘the most depressing day of the year’ – was created by London agency Porter Novelli, for their client Sky Travel. (They cleverly wanted to create a mechanism for getting their client in the news at the back end of January when people are booking holidays.)

I piggybacked on their story with an angle that ‘you don’t need to be depressed on this day, and by adopting my 7 point strategy, it could be a great day’; and too enjoyed some great coverage.

Recognising the story, like the flower category, as being a ‘hardy annual’, I approached the agency and asked what were they doing with the most depressing day story next year?

When told they weren’t doing anything, I cheekily asked if I could use it, then approached the academic who devised the formula to identify the day, who also said ‘yes’, tweaked the idea to brand it ‘Blue Monday’ and sought to link it with socially good causes.

For five years the story has got worldwide coverage.

Back to the AHCM and Yvonne’s idea grew from ‘recycling’ and ‘awards’ to fuse into the notion that a communications award ceremony should feature a category for ‘Best Re-use of a campaign’, showing how great results can be combined with making maximum use of existing materials or ideas: a message and a lesson which are very topical and necessary for the real challenges ahead.

Hope the AHCM adopt this next year.

Just wonder what other great campaigns or ideas are out there, which can be recycled, re-used and still achieve great added value.

Do you know of any?

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