Tiny Ideas

We’re trained to think in terms of the “Big Idea.” That one huge simple marketing idea that has tentacles that reach into all the media channels we can possibly list. “We gotta have a facebook page and a microsite with a integrated twitter feed. We need hash tags and a TV spot and also some banners and a billboard. Make sure we can cut that TV down for 15 second pre-roll, and lets do a Yahoo! page takeover as well. And it all has to work with the same tagline. Cool?”

We’re used to this and are all pros at executing it. Sometimes though, an idea has to be pretty watery to make sense in all these places. And sometimes this comes at the cost of the really genius tiny ideas.

What I mean by “Tiny Idea” is one that only gets executed once, in a single medium, and probably doesn’t last very long.

Take this oil spill poster

Simple! It’s a decently designed poster, but screen printed with oil recovered from the gulf. No app, no twitter handle, no TV spot necessary. I guess you could make a billboard, but people couldn’t buy that. Yes, there’s a website, but the site explains the idea, it’s not an awkward extension.

Here’s a project done for the Dali Museum by Goodby.

So tiny! It’s just a hipstamatic filter. Not an entire new camera app, just one little add on to the app you already have. The site exists to explain the idea, not some silly “upload a photo of yourself!” thing.

Check out this sweet billboard for TRON













Pretty awesome. You can’t do that execution in other media. They did a few other light-up billboards, but I love the simplicity of this one. Just the logo, not a shot of the cast, or the bike, or the city, etc.

The “Big Idea” as we think about it tends to be big executions, not always great thinking. Just because you can put the same four words on a banner and a TV doesn’t mean anyone cares any more than if you put them in an email. It’s a conversation we need to have with our clients as well. “How can we make sure there’s room for the tiny ideas that don’t necessarily fit into your larger campaign, but can still make an impact?” Let’s shift our thinking to define the “Big Idea” as one that has big impact on lots of people, not just lots of places.


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