Matthew Charlton is the CEO of Brothers and Sisters. He was a founder of BETC London, has run agencies in London, Amsterdam and the US and has worked on brands including Johnnie Walker, PlayStation and Sony Ericsson.
A new golden age of creativity is before us (if we heed a lesson from Engelbert Humperdinck)
Below is a brilliant sketch from Eddie Izzard. It is the perfect metaphor for the creative process in most agencies and the challenge of the madness and bravery we have to recapture.
And Engelbert Humperdinck! Yes, he was the man. That’s not his real name; he’s from Britain, but that’s not his name. There’s very few Humperdincks in Britain. He was born Gerry Dorsey, not Engelbert Humperdinck. His parents were not Mr. and Mrs. Humperdinck. They never said,
'What shall we call our son so he does not get the shit kicked out of him at school?'
'We shall call him Engelbert!'
'Good, that'll work!'
No, his name was Gerry Dorsey, and he released songs as Gerry Dorsey, songs such as ( mumbles ) which didn’t work ‘cause nobody could hear what he was saying. And then his managers, obviously, said, ‘We’re going to change your name, Gerry! It’s the name that’s the problem.’ And his name changed from Gerry Dorsey to Engelbert Humperdinck. I mean, I just wanted to be in the room when they were working that one through.
'Zingelbert Bembledack! Yingybert Dambleban! Zangelbert Bingledack! Wingelbert Humptyback! Slut Bunwalla!'
'All right, Kringelbert Fishtybuns! Steviebuns Bottrittrundle…'
'No, Gerry Dorsey, I like Gerry Dorsey!'
'No, we can't do it… Who we got? Zingelbert Bembledack, Tringelbert Wangledack, Slut Bunwalla, Klingybun Fistelvase, Dindlebert Zindledack, Gerry Dorsey, Engelbert Humptyback, Zengelbert Bingledack, Engelbert Humperdinck, Vingelbert Wingledanck…'
'No, no, go back one. Go back one. “Engelbert Humperdinck.” That's it.'
It's perfect metaphor for the creative process because it's part logic and part absolute madness and true gut feel that a particular idea could work.
Could you rationalise to a client why Engelbert Humperdinck is better than Kringelbert Fishtybuns? Should we even try!?
Most genuinely great and brave creative ideas fail that single test. "How can we sell it?" The answer comes down to a leap of faith and judgement and the patience of all involved to accept that if it falls we'd better make another one quickly.
Gerry Dorsey was a total flop; Engelbert Humperdinck was a total smash. It's the same bloke with the same voice but one captured the imagination and one didn't. That is the power of creativity and marketing. That is the power of being prepared to go for it with a brave idea and backing your instinct.
Millennial consumers (we can a brainstorm to rename them as well) live on YouTube, watch videos and don't read much, can't be bothered with ads, share things that they like and ignore everything else. I bloody love them! Let's start really talking to them and let's take our clients with us. We are on the cusp of a golden era of creativity.
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