I've been thinking about this topic for a while now and every person I talk to, I tell them that I want to write a blog post about it...so here goes.
I'm sick and tired of this notion that there is a singular BIG IDEA out there (unless we're talking Donny Deutsch and a television show). Marketers demand it from their agencies and agencies in turn expect it from media sellers and technology vendors.
And they all want it yesterday PLUS no one wants to pay for it.
The biggest problem I have with the concept of undertaking on a journey to lampoon the elusive and coveted BIG IDEA is that OUR version of the big idea might not the same as THEIR (meaning our consumers') belief of what is a big idea.
A big idea for humans could be paying the mortgage or finding a way to squeeze 15 more minutes out of the day. It could be throwing ball or having a pint of Guinness as opposed to a millions multi-colored balls bouncing down the streets of San Francisco or tracing back our love for alcohol to the dawn of time.
Big ideas take too much time to find and we don't have the time to find 'em (not on current accountability time)
Big ideas are equated to expensive ideas...hence the word BIG. They're meant to create a splash; secure buzz; enrapture the masses with pomp, grandeur and ceremony.
Big ideas are similarly, full of hot air, fluff, inflated with self-importance, exaggeration and hyperbole; they are obtuse and esoteric and are about as grounded in reality as my avatar in Second Life resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger's physique.
I like to think of ideas as sparks or seeds of conversation; each one capable of igniting a raging fire of passion or sprouting a giant, protective Oak Tree.
I like to think of many (AN = one of many) small ideas. SMALL = grounded in reality; capable of being internalized, understood and related to on an individual level.
Ideas are about potential. As Victor Hugo once said, there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come...but the idea is a catalyst; a conduit; a means to an end...and NOT an end unto itself.
Today, the only time BIG IDEAS are means to an end is when that end is winning a new business pitch or a Grand Prix at Cannes. Most new business pitch BIG IDEAS are unimplementable and how many Grand Prix winners at Cannes have gone on to change the world or transform businesses, business models and/or lives.
Arguably this year was a sea-change year with Unilever's Dove and the Campaign for Real Beauty cutting against the grain and heading in a different direction. That said, Unilever is also being questioned for talking out both sides of its mouth with Dove and Axe (Lynx) seemingly saying and doing completely polar-opposite things. Yes, two brands and two different target audiences, BUT one company with one culture and one focus which appears to be schitzophrenic.
You won't hear me talking about THE BIG IDEA anymore, but rather MANY SMALL IDEAS or AN SMALL IDEA (one at a time please) I'll only use the word BIG when my or your consumer tells me its BIG to them or when I witness the ability for an idea to overdeliver on impact, value and relevance.
It's time to get out of the business of desperately seeking the HAIL MARY or GRAND SLAM and focus on SMALL BALL or winning through a series of calculated gains of inch increments.
It's time to truly recognize the power of SMALL (being the NEW BIG as Seth Godin might say), which more often than not begins with one human; one individual; one life; one smile; one spark; one seed and grows and takes off from there...