Creativity can be a commercial and competitive advantage but to work creative ideas need to be “blindingly obvious”, asserted Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall at Circus.
Mildenhall, vice president of global advertising strategy and content excellence at the Coca-Cola Company, feels agencies can over-complicate their approach.
“Another interesting quote that I always refer back to, that is that creativity is about seeing what everybody else is seeing and thinking what nobody has thought,” Mildenhall said.
“Another way to put that is creativity should be a glimpse of the blindingly obvious.
“If creativity seems to be too hard, too complex, I can’t call up my mum and explain to my mum in 60 seconds on the phone what it is that I am trying to execute in this creative idea then chances are it is a bad creative idea.”
The best creative ideas are the ones that are “so obvious it feels almost familiar”, he added.
Mildenhall also spoke about how in 2004 Coca-Cola’s former chief executive publicly declared the company “creatively bankrupt”.
As a result, Coca-Cola moved to reinvest in creativity. Part of that involved academically studying what Mildenhall described as “some serious creatives”.
Those creative minds included Madonna, Steve Jobs and author and poet Maya Angelou among others.
Madonna is an inspiration for the company due to her ability to read pop culture and ensure the expression of her core values remain relevant.
This is the on-going task facing Coca-Cola to guarantee the brand’s expression of happiness “is relevant to an ever changing consumer base”.
Mildenhall said he had studied American author Maya Angelou and the way “she can smash your heart open in two or three sentences” to remind Coca-Cola of the power language holds.
“I worry that one thing that technology seems to be getting in the way of is how powerful the use of words can be,” he said.
Mildenhall also spoke about Coca-Cola’s “Content 2020” plans during his speech at The Communications Council’s three-day festival of commercial creativity, Circus.
For more on Coca-Cola’s future plans stay tuned for The Brief in coming weeks which will feature a one-on-one interview with Mildenhall.
In next week’s The Brief B&T brings you more from Circus with interviews with Mayan, chairman of JWT’s Asia Pacific creative council, and the global creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi X, Doug Van Andel.
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