Child's Play

by Tanya Dernaika

Recruitment ads for our industry should come with a cautionary warning: GROWN UPS NEED NOT APPLY.
Advertising is one of those rare, thrills-a-minute professions where having fun is not forbidden, but actually encouraged. If I had to rank the coolest jobs in the world for me, advertising would come in 4th after 1) chocolate taster 2) water-slide tester and 3) holiday reporter. And don’t get me started about those nice outfits again.
Giving birth to ideas (because that’s what it feels like) and then pitching them involves an enormous amount of stamina, self-belief, a utopic world view and imagination – all of which are a doddle to a healthy child, but harder to maintain once you’re paying for your own birthday parties.

So what’s the secret to success in advertising? In a nutshell, it’s about fiercely protecting one’s inner child, but behaving like a grown up. Translation: Peter Pan with a mortgage.
If you’re unsure whether your own child-like spirit is still alive and well, then test it by watching ‘Dream Rangers’ by Ogilvy Taiwan for TC Bank.
Christopher Noxon’s Rejuvenile focuses on how being child-like helps us stay open, creative and why that’s a good thing. The author also compares it to being childish, which is not so good, but I know that highlighting such nuance to the “eternal boys” and girls, inhabiting creative departments, is a fail-proof way to end my career.
Solving problems is what we’re paid to do, but according to the authors of the Freakonomics franchise, children make better problem solvers than adults.That’s because they ask themselves a series of small questions, rather than big ones as we do. Also, unlike grown-ups,
    “kids don’t carry around the preconceptions that can stop people from seeing things as they are”.
The best evidence for this is The Marshmallow Challenge. If you’ve worked in advertising as long as I have, chances are you’ve been subjected to (and humiliated by) some version of this “team-building exercise”. The point of this torture is to reveal how, as adults, we have lost our ability to play, collaborate and basically see the wood from the trees. And the worst part? You are not even allowed to eat the marshmallow.
Tom Wujec‘s TedEx talk reveals more.
Ok so children are better at playing than we are, but no one can accuse the creative team that hatched this ‘Never Stop Exploring’ campaign for Northface, to have lost their sense of fun. Another grand slam for Korean cool.
Arthur Rimbaud believed that:
    “genius is the recovery of childhood at will”
and examples of gifted creatives that have dug deep and fished out their Mini-Mes are, thankfully, everywhere.
Who can still remember what it feels like to be an awkward teen-ager? The copy-writer who came up with Haribo’s ‘The Unexpected Kiss’. That’s who.
I bet the talent who designed JayZ’s Grand Prix – awarded ‘Decoded’ recovered their own love for treasure hunts when dreaming this one up.
It must have taken a child-like zeal to change the world for Monboot and their Chipotle client to crack, and painstakingly craft, the multi-awarded campaign of 2014 ‘The Scarecrow’.
I could go on and on, rambling on like a child, but I think I’ll stop now. I’m craving some marshmallows.
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