writing

Write and Black Sheep – Pt 1

At the end of last year, strategists at BBH London were ‘invited’ to compete for The Write and Black Sheep Prize, an internal writing competition. Answering the question ‘If I were a marketer today what zag (general or category specific) would I make?’ in 400 words didn’t faze their planning brains – there were many brilliant entries. 

Over the next week we’ll be publishing some of the entries – starting today with the winning piece, Saskia Jones wonderful provocation on the connection between introversion and creativity. 

(note – this piece was first published in Campaign)


 

Precursor Monologue to a Creative Dialogue

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Let’s start with a game of “Who am I?”

I am told to speak up;
more often;
with more authority.

I am encouraged to
communicate with immediacy
work in groups;
and to network.
Yet I think more than I speak;
I am considered rather than immediate
I seek solitude.
& I hate small talk.

Who am I?

I’m Albert Einstein, I’m Barack Obama, I’m Mark Zuckerberg.

I’m me.

I’m an introvert.

I am part of the 30% of the nation that are.

I haven’t picked introversion to validate talking about myself for the next three hundred words.

No.

I’ve chosen this because of the intrinsic link between introversion and creativity. The kind of creativity that creates difference. At scale.

The kind of creativity that is the holy grail for today’s marketers.

Yet marketing is an industry renowned for attracting extroverts – and our environment has adjusted accordingly.

Collaboration, brainstorms & public speaking.

These words, and variations of them, fill me with fear.
I turn quickly from a vaguely intelligent & considered individual into a vacuous mute.

These now common-place processes and functions are founded on extrovert norms.

Extroverts are galvanised by other people, by external stimuli; they are each other’s catalysts – but these approaches are less effective than applying introvert “norms” to idea generation.

They also increase both social anxiety and peer pressure.

I therefore become more likely to agree with an idea I don’t necessarily believe in.

However, these approaches still prevail.

I find irony in the idea that we are trying to create difference but adopt processes that promote homogeneity.

There is an opportunity to disrupt this – to encourage a dialogue between extraverts and introverts.

Greater difference will come from quiet, than it will from noise.

This opportunity is not just internal, it extends to how we best engage with introverts through our comms;

Introverts over index on having a higher income – being high net-worth individuals.

Audi is marketing to them – consciously or otherwise.

But these people have defining traits that impact how & where we talk to them; they are fiercely private – an important consideration as comms become increasingly personalised.

Do I have all the answers to how this would work?

No.

But I do know that “Neither E = mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal.”

So how about I start by turning the tables.

By asking you to:

Speak more quietly
and less often.

To work alone
be more considered
and cut out the small talk.

Try it.

I dare you.

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Tree of Codes and the Web It Left Behind

Author: Jessica Berta (@jeccaberta), Writer, BBH NYC


Certain artists are typecast, sometimes by choice. They capture a style so well that it comes to define them. Author Jonathan Safran Foer falls outside of that camp with a chameleonic thud. He keeps us curious.

In his new book, Tree of Codes, Foer does with a physical book what we often neglect in digital—he turns reading into an experience. In showing how a story’s environment affects its meaning, he gives digital storytellers a slap in the face.

Tree of Codes, breaks from the standard book format in two ways:

  1. It creates a new story by tearing apart and piecing together an old one—Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles.
  2. Each page is die-cut to reveal just a handful of words and phrases.

I found the book annoying to read at first, despite its delicate beauty. I couldn’t decipher between the page I was reading and the ones beneath it. It was like a depth perception test following a mug of bourbon.

After sobering up and finding a better technique, I enjoyed the layout. Words hovered in a dream-ridden state. Thought went into each line, each phrase and how it was laid out. Such attention to the UX of reading is tough to find on the web. Foer’s analog approach would be easy enough to toy with in digital. So why aren’t we more playful with narratives online?

Brilliant writing isn’t enough to keep readers happy. Long blocks of copy, no matter how poetic, are begging for attention spans to scamper off elsewhere. In a design dominant field, it’s easy to neglect voice, tone, even punctuation. Or to forget about how each will figure into a broader environment.

Maybe that’s because we get swept up in technology. We use it to tell stories rather than to shape them. The following ideas and executions use technology to influence how stories are read. Bravo! The better ones put UX at the forefront. In doing so, they offer some lessons in communicating creatively.

These concepts and methods fool with language, narrative and technology to entertain. It’s humbling to think that a few pieces of paper and an X-Acto knife can do the same.

When we leave room for interpretation and delight, we can expand the playground for digital fiction. We can turn stories into experiences that are unique to each reader. So let’s stop neglecting the goddamn words. Pretty please?