If you’re a fan of movies you’ll have noticed all your childhood favorites coming back into circulation. There are a lot of remakes, a lot of chain sequels on something that might have been a bad idea to start with and a lot of completely unoriginal movie plots. Take the new Avengers film, which is based on an old idea and the characters themselves were already introduced independently within a string of prequels. Yet the film has already broken box office records on its rapid ascent to $1 billion in tickets sold worldwide.
Why is it so widely successful? More importantly, what does it say about the shift in our society where success isn’t based on originality or creativity but rather on delivery. The film is delivered exquisitely, complete with a lot of CG and over the top action scenes. But there isn’t an ounce of originality in the film or in its marketing campaign.
Sure there are strategic partnerships between film producers and candy makers. And yes, toy makers have lined up to provide some really enviable toys, with store managers doing what they can to draw more visual attention to that department, but nothing here is original – nothing is creative.
Why Creativity Is Dying
About a week ago, Adobe launched a study revealing a “global creativity gap” among the world’s five largest economies. Their report, the State of Create Global Benchmark Study, shows that while 8 in 10 people value creativity and its role in society, only a staggering 1 in 4 people actually believe they’re living up to their creative potential. Translated, this means that while we value creativity as a society, that value is based on predisposed notions rather than meaningful inclusions in our daily life, let alone business life.
American marketers also feel under pressure to be more productive than creative, with 75% citing the claim. The shift in productivity isn’t very new, but if you look at any really successful company in the last 10 years you’ll recognize that the emphasis there was on idea generation and innovation – while productivity came later. Still, creative minds are never treated the same way as the average 9-5 employee.
Why Creativity Matters
If you consider anything that’s gone viral recently, you’ll recognize that it’s been something original. However silly or useless, viral content is original. And in new media marketing, viral equals hits and hits equals money. If you want to be successful, you have to think originally; you have to be creative and show people something that ignites a spark in them.
How You Can Salvage Your Creativity
As the Creative Thinking Hub puts it, “It’s hard to think creatively, when you are living in a typical consumer bubble,” which explains why the five largest economies show the most deflated levels of creativity. The solution they offer is to mix up your media intake, which jars the perception filter each outlet impresses upon its audience. From a business standpoint, especially if you’re in marketing where creativity is critical, it’s imperative to engage diverse content sources. Varied content intake, even fusing in international streams with older/vintage streams, will help prevent a jarred mindset that’s unable to shift into a creative move.
But as Einstein would put it, you have to force your brain to think differently, to undo the thought pathways it’s cemented in. Trigger newer synaptic connections and forge new pathways by thinking differently, almost madly in a Willy Wonka inspired way, if that’s what it takes to help jog your creative brain. Coming up with new ideas, even “impossible ones,” and engaging in new activities and experiences will help undo some of the damage we’ve already done to our creative minds – and thus make us much sharper on the marketing floor.