MARRYING PRAGMATISM WITH CREATIVITY–
A MARKETING TEAM’S SILVER BULLET

 


 

In 1993, husband and wife Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel co-directed the film Super Mario Bros.

At the time, it was the first big-budget movie adaptation of a videogame and was highly anticipated by video game fans and movie buffs alike.

Unfortunately, it was a massive flop.

It was hailed as “a critical and financial failure”, having finished massively over budget US$48 million and only grossing US$39 million.

Famous actor and lead Dennis Hopper has since claimed in interviews that it was a “complete disaster…the stench of which still hangs with everybody involved”.

These might sound like pretty strong words for those of you not involved in the film and content industry, but to me, I can relate to Hopper — particularly when I think back to when I was just starting out.

I had my suspicions as to what caused Super Mario Bros to crash and burn even before I did my research.

I mean, on paper it should have been a smash hit—

Accomplished directors of critically acclaimed films (Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields)? ✔
A star-studded cast of internationally recognised actors? ✔
An enormous budget? ✔
Content that’s already well known with a loyal fanbase? ✔

 

So what happened?

 

Well, as per my suspicions, detailed interviews with the crew confirmed that—

those in charge were unable to marry pragmatism with creative vision.

According to those involved in the making of the film, directors Morton and Jankel threw away the script and opted to improvise, only to find themselves down US$10 million and without a single usable piece of content.

On top of that, accomplished actors walked off set and abandoned scenes altogether, unable to be rallied by their chaotic directors.

Whilst this is an extreme example used to illustrate the point of where ‘ambitious creativity’ became detached from the ‘practical reality’ — it serves as an important reminder for every creative endeavour to ensure that the process is kept under a tight leash. Allow enough rope to gain creative freedom, but not enough that forces precious resources such as time and budget to spin wildly out of control.

As a fellow marketer (or any professional that works within a creative team) I’m sure you can relate to this occurrence…

It’s torturous and frustrating when your finite amount of time is wasted by committees, unnecessary pivots and passionate but misguided examination. Yes, strategic discussion and investigation are essential to uncover your ‘strategic truth — that competitive and compelling nugget that makes your product stand out. Yes — developing a fresh creative way of communicating this truth with your customers takes time to take shape and fully form. Both are essential to the creation of every successful campaign.

However, the secret ingredient which makes sure the process proceeds is having an agent in the mix that knows when to shift from being in ‘motion’ to taking ‘action’.

If this is something you have experienced, you may be asking yourself—

How does one strike the balance between pragmatism and artistic creativity?
How do we decide when an idea should be developed at the expense of another?

This is a very difficult thing to do. Balancing these things successfully can be what makes a team stand out from its competitors in any industry.

The annoying reality, however?

Finding this balance takes practice and the right people.

The team at P2 has been constructed with a bunch of (modest) experts that have enough video creation experience to call the shots and know exactly when to move and when to switch gears and take action. Years of collective knowledge in the industry allows us to navigate the complexity of video creation, giving your business the fast track to standing out, grabbing attention, and ultimately driving sales.

With over 15 years creating videos that retail entertainment, by way of movies, TV shows, albums and live events, to automotive such as Subaru and Holden to homewares like Nick Scali, Amart and Fantastic Furniture — we’ve developed a methodology which simplifies all decision-making at the start of a campaign planning process which ensure every video we create has a distinct purpose on driving sales for our clients.

A stand out observation we can share which throws some useful light on how to marry pragmatism with creativity is to encourage dynamism within the team whilst providing leadership that follows through and makes the final call.

There must never be a monopoly on who can contribute an idea within the marketing war room and diverse opinions should always be encouraged. If creative inclusion is suppressed, the video content pursued could miss the mark and be ineffective, or worse, there might not be any ideas worth pursuing at all.

Because of this, it’s vital everyone should be given the stage and opportunity to put ideas forward, but ultimately there still needs to be one leader that makes the final call.

Some may argue that creativity, when not on a leash, will run riot and never get anything done. We agree with this statement.

We’ve found that creativity however, when on a very long leash in the hands of a dynamic leader, yields the best results. It’s up to the leader to reign in the leash if the team’s barking up the wrong tree.

What’s just as important as the leader’s decision to redirect a team is the team’s response.

We found we started to get the best results in our video content campaigns when our team culture developed to support a dynamic leader’s decisions with 100% focus and dedication.
 

So, what’s the solution then?

 

When a team is looking to successfully marry pragmatism with creativity, they must first set up an environment where this is possible.

Having a dynamic leader that allows creativity to flow but knows when to step in is essential and these qualities can be taught to all team members.

Not only should your team have a leader who possesses these qualities, it should be made up of individuals who are prepared to pivot their focus once a conscious decision has been made by the leader.

In the end, being able to merge pragmatism with creativity is a learned skill and a team effort.

It takes time to achieve, but it pays dividends.

 
NEVER. NOT. STAND OUT.
 

Marc Collister
General Manager / Partner

marc@p2.com.au

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