800 Post-It Notes. 75 Campaigns. 6 Countries. 3 Days.

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What happens when you get creative teams from six countries in a room together and ask them to solve a global creative problem?

In a word: magic.

For the past few days, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some incredibly talented people. We gathered in a conference room at the Westin hotel in Hamburg, Germany. Creative teams from the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Brazil and Argentina were represented. Planning and Account from the USA were also on hand. I was the host and session moderator.

We began with a simple briefing. Our creative brief was easy to understand and everyone instantly got it. The charge was given. Then the exercises began.

We began with a post-it note exercise that everyone felt was silly. We did this for what seemed like an eternity. Nobody was sure what we were trying to accomplish. “Trust the process,” I kept saying. “It will all eventually make sense.”

Next we took our 800 post it notes and divided them into categories. The stranger the name of the category, the better. Think outside the box. Stop thinking logically. There was lots of laughter. An equal amount of confusion. “Trust the process,” I asked. “It will all eventually make sense.”

Next we chose random post-in notes and wrote stories. The stories were interesting and revealing about the type of work we would create. My favorite story was titled “The Silence of the Dolphins” about a woman who works with hearing impaired dolphins.  Almost 20 stories were written. “Trust the process,” I said again. “It will all eventually make sense.”

But now the fun part began. Take everything we’ve created. The categories. The brief. The stories. And whip them into a brand manifesto for our product. I could see it in their eyes. It was beginning to make sense. Everything we had created to this point had a purpose. To add dimension to the brief. To give it a tone. To give it language. To give it passion. Now, we were about to give it a point of view.

The teams went off to work. Over dinner that night, we read our manifestos to each other. We drank wine. We sang opera. Reading manifestos in a 17th century, candle lit, wine cellar in Germany was surreal. You could feel the passion. You could feel the stake being planted in the ground. You could feel ideas beginning to be created.

But most of all, you could feel a team coming together.

Over the next 36 hours, we created over 75 campaign ideas. They came from the brief. They came from the categories. They came from the manifestos. But mostly they came from the  brilliant minds of the teams.  But not just the creative teams. Our planners jumping in with teams to create. Our branding director drew ads. The account leads wrote headlines, too. And yes, even I threw in an idea or two.  We laughed. We worked. We presented. Eventually we voted.

15 campaigns made the next round. We refined a little. We pushed. We pulled.

Then we presented to the clients. Nine clients from four separate global regions. We presented for almost two hours. We talked. We agreed. We disagreed. And in the end, we all aligned on 5 concepts to move forward.

We all stepped back and said, “The process worked.” I smiled as it all really did make perfect sense.

At the end of the three days, we did more than create a lot of work. We created global bonds that will help us stay on course as the work progresses.  There is a lot yet to do. The timeline is very short. But we’re confident in where we are heading.

Thank you to everyone who participated.

Thank you to everyone who worked over the weekend to help out.

And thank you to our client who trusted a process that they have never done before.

It was a fun few days.

R

9.26.13

SIDE BAR:  A meeting like this is impossible to coordinate. We brought in a professional meeting planner from our of our companies. Everything ran like clockwork. Amazing job. Holly – if you’re reading this – you were the secret weapon. Thank you so much!

 

 

 

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