For those of you who are as intrigued as I am by creative ad genius, Art & Copy (2008), the advertising documentary directed by Doug Pray, was released last Friday, 5 days after the T.V. season premiere of “Mad Men”.
In Pray’s film many ad slogans and revelations are discussed with the creators and those surrounding the campaigns.
The synthesis of “Just Do It”
According to the film, Gary Gilmore, the notorious spree-killer, uttered the words “Let’s do it” just before a firing squad executed him in Utah in 1977. Years later, the phrase became the inspiration for Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign.
Dan Wieden, a co-founder of Wieden & Kennedy, tweaked Mr. Gilmore’s last words thinking it would make a good slogan for Nike. He said the resonance of “Just Do It” was completely inadvertent and unforeseen. In the film, Mr. Wieden recalled the moment it dawned on him to use the phrase. “None of us really paid that much attention. We thought, ‘Yeah. That’d work,’ ” he says, adding, “People started reading things into it much more than sport.”
Are these random creative coincidences or creative genius at work?
Mr. Pray, the film’s director, is a documentarian who has also directed commercials. He said part of his reason for doing the film was to shed light on the people behind ads that have left a mark on American culture. “There’s a beauty to things like ‘Got Milk?’ or ‘Just Do It’ or ‘Where’s the Beef?’ — this incredibly simple writing that seems to kind of say more,” he said. “They seem to work on some kind of a different level that has nothing to do with the product.”
I don’t see the creative process as random. I see it as genius. The brain, with its unknown complexities, can take any information and synthesize it in a way that appears completely random. If one is paying attention, the cues are there. You just have to let them surface and spark!
Now… just do it!