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TCI Final 2.0

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THE CATALYTIC IDEA


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THE CATALYTIC IDEA By 1917, the German army had been fighting the Russians for three long years. They had tried artillery, infantry attacks and cavalry charges. A million of their soldiers had died. But the war remained a stalemate. By Simon Silvester Executive Planning Director, Y&R EMEA simon_silvester@eu.yr.com For new business enquiries, please contact: Marcus Brown marcus_brown@eu.yr.com tel:+44 20 7611 6890 For press enquiries, please contact: Bernard Barnett bernard_barnett@eu.yr.com tel:+44 20 7611 6425 The emailable version of this document is at www.emea.yr.com/catalytic.pdf

The German leadership was in despair. A new weapon Then one of their number made a suggestion. He told his superiors of a weapon more powerful than anything they had used before. A weapon which would strike well beyond the Russian front lines – and even impact the cities beyond. Indeed, he believed the weapon to be so powerful, it might even break up Russian society and destroy its will to fight.


TCI Final 2.0

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THE CATALYTIC IDEA By 1917, the German army had been fighting the Russians for three long years. They had tried artillery, infantry attacks and cavalry charges. A million of their soldiers had died. But the war remained a stalemate. By Simon Silvester Executive Planning Director, Y&R EMEA simon_silvester@eu.yr.com For new business enquiries, please contact: Marcus Brown marcus_brown@eu.yr.com tel:+44 20 7611 6890 For press enquiries, please contact: Bernard Barnett bernard_barnett@eu.yr.com tel:+44 20 7611 6425 The emailable version of this document is at www.emea.yr.com/catalytic.pdf

The German leadership was in despair. A new weapon Then one of their number made a suggestion. He told his superiors of a weapon more powerful than anything they had used before. A weapon which would strike well beyond the Russian front lines – and even impact the cities beyond. Indeed, he believed the weapon to be so powerful, it might even break up Russian society and destroy its will to fight.


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What was its nature? The weapon was not a tank, nor a missile, nor a bomb.

Within months two million Russian soldiers had deserted their trenches.

It was an idea.

And the Tsar’s war machine had ground to a halt.

An idea that would cause people to think new things and act in new ways.

Meanwhile, the idea spread in St. Petersburg and Moscow. It sparked civil disruption and riots.

A catalytic idea.

By November Russian society was in chaos. And then the government fell.

Launching the catalytic idea The idea was held within the mind of a Russian exile living in Germany. So they invited the exile to Berlin and met with him. Then they put him on a train and sent the train to Russia*. Upon his arrival, the man started to spread the idea. People listened to it, thought about it and became agitated. And then they started to spread the idea themselves. A few months later In the summer, the idea reached the Russian front lines.

* In his ‘History of the First World War’, Winston Churchill was later to describe the German plot involving the man on the train as ‘the most grisly of all weapons.’

The greatest military secrets of history were not bombs, nor rockets, but ideas.

Within weeks a new revolutionary government formed in St. Petersburg and asked Germany for peace. The war between Germany and Russia ended. And the idea – communism – and the man on the train Vladimir Illych Lenin – entered history. Catalytic ideas in marketing The power of catalytic ideas - ideas that provoke action rather than just thought - goes beyond politics and war. Indeed catalytic ideas lie at the heart of most of the changes in consumer habits of our recent past. Few people bothered with deodorants until their manufacturers introduced the catalytic idea that not using them was why many consumers couldn’t get a date.


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What was its nature? The weapon was not a tank, nor a missile, nor a bomb.

Within months two million Russian soldiers had deserted their trenches.

It was an idea.

And the Tsar’s war machine had ground to a halt.

An idea that would cause people to think new things and act in new ways.

Meanwhile, the idea spread in St. Petersburg and Moscow. It sparked civil disruption and riots.

A catalytic idea.

By November Russian society was in chaos. And then the government fell.

Launching the catalytic idea The idea was held within the mind of a Russian exile living in Germany. So they invited the exile to Berlin and met with him. Then they put him on a train and sent the train to Russia*. Upon his arrival, the man started to spread the idea. People listened to it, thought about it and became agitated. And then they started to spread the idea themselves. A few months later In the summer, the idea reached the Russian front lines.

* In his ‘History of the First World War’, Winston Churchill was later to describe the German plot involving the man on the train as ‘the most grisly of all weapons.’

The greatest military secrets of history were not bombs, nor rockets, but ideas.

Within weeks a new revolutionary government formed in St. Petersburg and asked Germany for peace. The war between Germany and Russia ended. And the idea – communism – and the man on the train Vladimir Illych Lenin – entered history. Catalytic ideas in marketing The power of catalytic ideas - ideas that provoke action rather than just thought - goes beyond politics and war. Indeed catalytic ideas lie at the heart of most of the changes in consumer habits of our recent past. Few people bothered with deodorants until their manufacturers introduced the catalytic idea that not using them was why many consumers couldn’t get a date.


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And few people did anything about the smells that came out of their mouth, until Listerine introduced the idea of bad breath. Brushing your teeth More recently, the rise of the electric toothbrush has been driven by a catalytic idea:

“We invented plaque.” MARKETING DIRECTOR, MULTINATIONAL

The electric toothbrush has been available in most countries since the 1950s. It has however, always been a niche product. “It may be convenient, but I’m not that lazy”, was most people’s response to them. “And this is the ultimate lazy man appliance.”

Then manufacturers introduced a catalytic idea – that whilst brushing would remove food, only an electric toothbrush would remove plaque. They put the idea into their marketing communications. They put it on their packaging. And they got the medical profession on their side. What, if not ideas, causes twenty-first century mankind to pay more for water than for gasoline?

The result? Consumers stopped thinking about electric toothbrushes as labor-saving devices.


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And few people did anything about the smells that came out of their mouth, until Listerine introduced the idea of bad breath. Brushing your teeth More recently, the rise of the electric toothbrush has been driven by a catalytic idea:

“We invented plaque.” MARKETING DIRECTOR, MULTINATIONAL

The electric toothbrush has been available in most countries since the 1950s. It has however, always been a niche product. “It may be convenient, but I’m not that lazy”, was most people’s response to them. “And this is the ultimate lazy man appliance.”

Then manufacturers introduced a catalytic idea – that whilst brushing would remove food, only an electric toothbrush would remove plaque. They put the idea into their marketing communications. They put it on their packaging. And they got the medical profession on their side. What, if not ideas, causes twenty-first century mankind to pay more for water than for gasoline?

The result? Consumers stopped thinking about electric toothbrushes as labor-saving devices.


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And started to think of their healthcare benefits. And as they did so, electric toothbrushes became the everyday household items they are today. Similarly with cell phones Most people in the cell phone industry think it was technology that built their companies. But it wasn’t. It was a catalytic idea. Before the launch of cell phones, there was little evidence that they would be useful for anyone other than business people. 94% of phone calls were made from the home or office. Call boxes were only used frequently by the small part of the population in most countries who didn’t have a landline at home. Why cell phones weren’t really necessary Phone call volume by origin of call, 1986/7:

Home 48% Office 46% Payphone 5% Base: OECD average Source: IMIU

Ask ordinary consumers at the time what they thought of cell phones and they would tell you that they were just “posing devices for businessmen”.

Catalytic ideas needed: Cell phone network service providers today face a problem of declining revenues per user. They hoped that camera phones would change things. But they forgot that camera phones are just a technology. And they need catalytic ideas to make them work.


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And started to think of their healthcare benefits. And as they did so, electric toothbrushes became the everyday household items they are today. Similarly with cell phones Most people in the cell phone industry think it was technology that built their companies. But it wasn’t. It was a catalytic idea. Before the launch of cell phones, there was little evidence that they would be useful for anyone other than business people. 94% of phone calls were made from the home or office. Call boxes were only used frequently by the small part of the population in most countries who didn’t have a landline at home. Why cell phones weren’t really necessary Phone call volume by origin of call, 1986/7:

Home 48% Office 46% Payphone 5% Base: OECD average Source: IMIU

Ask ordinary consumers at the time what they thought of cell phones and they would tell you that they were just “posing devices for businessmen”.

Catalytic ideas needed: Cell phone network service providers today face a problem of declining revenues per user. They hoped that camera phones would change things. But they forgot that camera phones are just a technology. And they need catalytic ideas to make them work.


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To the ordinary consumer, cell phones simply weren’t necessary.

It’s this idea that drives people to use their phones frequently.

Today though, things have changed.

And it’s this idea that makes cell phone network service providers profitable.

A catalytic idea of constant contact has spread: • Today, young adults maintain constant contact with their social circle via their cell phone. • Contact between young couples is especially intense: men who don’t return their girlfriend’s hourly texts don’t get to stay over. • Firm arrangements are no longer made days in advance. Young adults plan their social lives by phone and text as their day and evening progresses. • Indeed, use of the cell phone has become so automatic to young people that even when at home, many no longer bother to use landlines any more. So many Brits use cell phones all the time nowadays that British Telecom is trying to encourage Brits back to their payphones with an onscreen video game about sheep herding.

Do catalytic ideas happen of their own accord? You may think that catalytic ideas follow inevitably from social change and the introduction of new technology. But the reality is more complex than that. Talk to any mobile service provider in the world and they will tell you that only a proportion of their customers are infected with the idea of ‘constant contact’. And what separates the successful network service provider of today from the rest is not their technology, nor their area coverage. It is their skill in recruiting and infecting their customers with the ‘constant contact’ idea. Are catalytic ideas new? “We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich, beyond the dreams of avarice”,


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To the ordinary consumer, cell phones simply weren’t necessary.

It’s this idea that drives people to use their phones frequently.

Today though, things have changed.

And it’s this idea that makes cell phone network service providers profitable.

A catalytic idea of constant contact has spread: • Today, young adults maintain constant contact with their social circle via their cell phone. • Contact between young couples is especially intense: men who don’t return their girlfriend’s hourly texts don’t get to stay over. • Firm arrangements are no longer made days in advance. Young adults plan their social lives by phone and text as their day and evening progresses. • Indeed, use of the cell phone has become so automatic to young people that even when at home, many no longer bother to use landlines any more. So many Brits use cell phones all the time nowadays that British Telecom is trying to encourage Brits back to their payphones with an onscreen video game about sheep herding.

Do catalytic ideas happen of their own accord? You may think that catalytic ideas follow inevitably from social change and the introduction of new technology. But the reality is more complex than that. Talk to any mobile service provider in the world and they will tell you that only a proportion of their customers are infected with the idea of ‘constant contact’. And what separates the successful network service provider of today from the rest is not their technology, nor their area coverage. It is their skill in recruiting and infecting their customers with the ‘constant contact’ idea. Are catalytic ideas new? “We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich, beyond the dreams of avarice”,


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said Samuel Johnston when tasked with selling the contents of a London brewery in 1781. Catalytic ideas have been the driving force behind enterprise since the dawn of civilization. Do they have limits? Estée Lauder set out in 1948 to build a cosmetics empire based not on pots of cream, but on a catalytic idea of ‘eternal youth.’ Her path took her to over 45% of the US cosmetics market. Are they advertising ideas? No. Catalytic ideas live in the consumer mind and in the consciousness of society, not just in the words of a TV commercial or press ad. They can be spread by any and all marketing activity - via PR, via direct marketing, via advertising or indeed via word of mouth. They are thus ideas before advertising. And ideas beyond advertising.

A long time ago, California’s orange growers were in financial trouble - until they introduced a catalytic idea: that instead of eating oranges, Americans could squeeze juice out of them and drink what they named ‘orange juice’ for breakfast. The campaign line: ‘Drink An Orange.’


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said Samuel Johnston when tasked with selling the contents of a London brewery in 1781. Catalytic ideas have been the driving force behind enterprise since the dawn of civilization. Do they have limits? Estée Lauder set out in 1948 to build a cosmetics empire based not on pots of cream, but on a catalytic idea of ‘eternal youth.’ Her path took her to over 45% of the US cosmetics market. Are they advertising ideas? No. Catalytic ideas live in the consumer mind and in the consciousness of society, not just in the words of a TV commercial or press ad. They can be spread by any and all marketing activity - via PR, via direct marketing, via advertising or indeed via word of mouth. They are thus ideas before advertising. And ideas beyond advertising.

A long time ago, California’s orange growers were in financial trouble - until they introduced a catalytic idea: that instead of eating oranges, Americans could squeeze juice out of them and drink what they named ‘orange juice’ for breakfast. The campaign line: ‘Drink An Orange.’


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Can they work in mature markets? In 1920, Wall Street regarded cola as a mature market, and treated Coca-Cola stock as unattractive. Then Coke introduced two catalytic ideas: • “Thirst Knows No Season” – with which they persuaded 1920s America that Coke wasn’t just a refreshing summer drink, it tasted good all year round. • “The pause that refreshes” with which they persuaded a new generation of 1930s office workers that Coke wasn’t just for leisure time and that they should take a break from typing and refresh themselves with a Coke in their office too.* Each campaign caused Americans to drink substantially more Coke. Each campaign impacted the Coca-Cola stock price dramatically. And each campaign proved that there are no mature markets. There are just companies that have run out of catalytic ideas. People used to kiss with their eyes open until they saw Hollywood stars close theirs in the 1930s. Today, most of our intimate habits are the result of catalytic ideas from mankind’s recent past. * Don’t think these are ideas? That’s because once a catalytic idea’s time has passed, it looks blindingly obvious.


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Can they work in mature markets? In 1920, Wall Street regarded cola as a mature market, and treated Coca-Cola stock as unattractive. Then Coke introduced two catalytic ideas: • “Thirst Knows No Season” – with which they persuaded 1920s America that Coke wasn’t just a refreshing summer drink, it tasted good all year round. • “The pause that refreshes” with which they persuaded a new generation of 1930s office workers that Coke wasn’t just for leisure time and that they should take a break from typing and refresh themselves with a Coke in their office too.* Each campaign caused Americans to drink substantially more Coke. Each campaign impacted the Coca-Cola stock price dramatically. And each campaign proved that there are no mature markets. There are just companies that have run out of catalytic ideas. People used to kiss with their eyes open until they saw Hollywood stars close theirs in the 1930s. Today, most of our intimate habits are the result of catalytic ideas from mankind’s recent past. * Don’t think these are ideas? That’s because once a catalytic idea’s time has passed, it looks blindingly obvious.


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You too need a catalytic idea Catalytic ideas have been the quarry of politicians, generals and leaders for centuries. They are what Victor Hugo was speaking of when he said, “No army in the world is as strong as an idea whose time has come.” Catalytic ideas can build business empires, reinvigorate markets and stun stockholders. They are the holy grail of marketing.

UNFORTUNATELY NOT ALL IDEAS ARE CATALYTIC When Monsieur Hugo spoke of ideas defeating armies, he wasn’t talking about all ideas The scene is an advertising agency. The agency is being briefed by a financial services company about a campaign for their credit card. “Our card,” says the client “allows consumers to pay for their purchases now or later; it offers a range of interest rate options and repayment schemes. It can be used online and by phone as well as in shops. In a nutshell, our card is about flexibility.” “Flexibility” thinks the agency’s planner. “That’s a nice, singleminded concept. That can be our selling proposition.”


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You too need a catalytic idea Catalytic ideas have been the quarry of politicians, generals and leaders for centuries. They are what Victor Hugo was speaking of when he said, “No army in the world is as strong as an idea whose time has come.” Catalytic ideas can build business empires, reinvigorate markets and stun stockholders. They are the holy grail of marketing.

UNFORTUNATELY NOT ALL IDEAS ARE CATALYTIC When Monsieur Hugo spoke of ideas defeating armies, he wasn’t talking about all ideas The scene is an advertising agency. The agency is being briefed by a financial services company about a campaign for their credit card. “Our card,” says the client “allows consumers to pay for their purchases now or later; it offers a range of interest rate options and repayment schemes. It can be used online and by phone as well as in shops. In a nutshell, our card is about flexibility.” “Flexibility” thinks the agency’s planner. “That’s a nice, singleminded concept. That can be our selling proposition.”


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THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF IDEA That afternoon he briefs a creative team. *** A few weeks later the agency presents the campaign. It’s a series of TV commercials where people bend and curve using state-of-the-art computer graphics. “The flexible way to pay” says a male voice over at the end. “That certainly seems to express our flexibility strategy” says the client. “Let’s put it into research.” *** A week later, the focus groups confirm that the ‘flexible’ message is clearly communicated. These results are then backed up by quantitative pre-testing research. The campaign runs.

THE ISOLIC IDEA

THE CATALYTIC IDEA

Response: “What a great idea!”

Response: “I must act!”

*** Six months later, the tracking comes in. In the results, ‘flexible’ keeps on coming up. The campaign is judged a success. ***


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THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF IDEA That afternoon he briefs a creative team. *** A few weeks later the agency presents the campaign. It’s a series of TV commercials where people bend and curve using state-of-the-art computer graphics. “The flexible way to pay” says a male voice over at the end. “That certainly seems to express our flexibility strategy” says the client. “Let’s put it into research.” *** A week later, the focus groups confirm that the ‘flexible’ message is clearly communicated. These results are then backed up by quantitative pre-testing research. The campaign runs.

THE ISOLIC IDEA

THE CATALYTIC IDEA

Response: “What a great idea!”

Response: “I must act!”

*** Six months later, the tracking comes in. In the results, ‘flexible’ keeps on coming up. The campaign is judged a success. ***


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Ads like this are produced by advertising agencies all the time. The reaction to them, if the computer graphics are really, really good, is “What a great idea!” But they result in precious little action. They are what are called isolic ideas. Isolic ideas Isolic ideas raise a laugh; they get day-after recall; perhaps they raise top-of-mind brand awareness for a while. Buy yourself a pair of intellectual looking specs, and you too can be a planner

But they do nothing more than that. Specifically, they do not affect the two qualities of a thing that make consumers think new thoughts and then act in new ways: • They do not affect the ability of a thing to stand out and get consumers to notice it and think about it. In marketing textbooks this quality is called differentiation. • They do not affect the ability of a thing to connect into the consumer’s everyday life and make it feel useful to them. Marketing textbooks call this quality relevance.

Y&R’s advertising for Danone’s Actimel shows a protective bubble around people who drink an Actimel first thing every morning. The result: high differentiation, growing relevance and over 32,000,000 users in Europe.


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Ads like this are produced by advertising agencies all the time. The reaction to them, if the computer graphics are really, really good, is “What a great idea!” But they result in precious little action. They are what are called isolic ideas. Isolic ideas Isolic ideas raise a laugh; they get day-after recall; perhaps they raise top-of-mind brand awareness for a while. Buy yourself a pair of intellectual looking specs, and you too can be a planner

But they do nothing more than that. Specifically, they do not affect the two qualities of a thing that make consumers think new thoughts and then act in new ways: • They do not affect the ability of a thing to stand out and get consumers to notice it and think about it. In marketing textbooks this quality is called differentiation. • They do not affect the ability of a thing to connect into the consumer’s everyday life and make it feel useful to them. Marketing textbooks call this quality relevance.

Y&R’s advertising for Danone’s Actimel shows a protective bubble around people who drink an Actimel first thing every morning. The result: high differentiation, growing relevance and over 32,000,000 users in Europe.


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Catalytic ideas drive differentiation and relevance. Isolic ideas do not. When Lord Leverhulme said in the nineteenth century that “half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I don’t know which half�, the part he was complaining about was the part which his advertising agencies had put behind isolic ideas. And incidentally, for most advertisers today the proportion is a lot more than half.

Telecom Italia wanted to catalyze use of their powerful new communications technologies. So Y&R asked their customers to imagine the consequences if, back in the 1930s, Gandhi had used them to spread his message of peace across the entire world.


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Catalytic ideas drive differentiation and relevance. Isolic ideas do not. When Lord Leverhulme said in the nineteenth century that “half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I don’t know which half�, the part he was complaining about was the part which his advertising agencies had put behind isolic ideas. And incidentally, for most advertisers today the proportion is a lot more than half.

Telecom Italia wanted to catalyze use of their powerful new communications technologies. So Y&R asked their customers to imagine the consequences if, back in the 1930s, Gandhi had used them to spread his message of peace across the entire world.


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THE CATALYTIC IDEA CATALYTIC IDEAS ARE HARD TO MAKE Isolic ideas have few real roots – as a copywriter put it to us, they ‘just sort of come into your head’. Catalytic ideas on the other hand, are rooted in the three areas they challenge: the marketplace, the consumer mind and in the brand which communicates them. Therefore, whilst isolic ideas need no formal mechanism to create them, catalytic ideas need three complementary processes to develop them. All at the same time, you need to: 1. Interrogate the brand. 2. Probe and understand the consumer mind. 3. Explore the marketplace and work out a way of challenging its conventions. Then you need to find an inspired combination of your three lines of thought.

MARKETPLACE


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THE CATALYTIC IDEA CATALYTIC IDEAS ARE HARD TO MAKE Isolic ideas have few real roots – as a copywriter put it to us, they ‘just sort of come into your head’. Catalytic ideas on the other hand, are rooted in the three areas they challenge: the marketplace, the consumer mind and in the brand which communicates them. Therefore, whilst isolic ideas need no formal mechanism to create them, catalytic ideas need three complementary processes to develop them. All at the same time, you need to: 1. Interrogate the brand. 2. Probe and understand the consumer mind. 3. Explore the marketplace and work out a way of challenging its conventions. Then you need to find an inspired combination of your three lines of thought.

MARKETPLACE


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It’s a tortuous process. And we’d be the first to admit that we ourselves don’t find it easy. But as Orson Wells put it in The Third Man: “In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” Spotting the catalytic idea that emerges It’s easy to spot an isolic idea. If you think “That’s a good idea”, it’s likely that you are looking at a good isolic idea. Promises of smiley stewardesses aren’t enough to make young people throw in their jobs and take a flight to the other side of the world. This RKCR/Y&R commercial for Virgin Atlantic leaves them with a much more catalytic thought: When your life flashes before you, make sure there’s plenty to watch.

You like it. You enjoy it. But your actions do not change. It’s much more difficult to spot a catalytic idea.


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It’s a tortuous process. And we’d be the first to admit that we ourselves don’t find it easy. But as Orson Wells put it in The Third Man: “In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” Spotting the catalytic idea that emerges It’s easy to spot an isolic idea. If you think “That’s a good idea”, it’s likely that you are looking at a good isolic idea. Promises of smiley stewardesses aren’t enough to make young people throw in their jobs and take a flight to the other side of the world. This RKCR/Y&R commercial for Virgin Atlantic leaves them with a much more catalytic thought: When your life flashes before you, make sure there’s plenty to watch.

You like it. You enjoy it. But your actions do not change. It’s much more difficult to spot a catalytic idea.


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Before their time, catalytic ideas take the shape of disturbing feelings, or unpleasant thoughts, or they feel just plain uncomfortable: When the first Walkmans appeared in 1979, they came as a shock to the “All great truths generation who had been brought up on ghetto blasters, thinking that music was begin as always an experience to be shared. As blasphemies.” they watched the first Walkman owners silently shake their bodies, many thought GEORGE BERNARD SHAW they were mentally unbalanced. Only once catalytic ideas become accepted by a good proportion of society do they start to feel comfortable: In most countries, the idea of drinking coffee cold with crushed ice is seen as fashionably refreshing. But that’s because fashionable people refresh themselves with the stuff. Before they did so, the idea of drinking coffee cold over ice was seen by most people as just plain weird. And then once they become accepted by everyone, they again become difficult to spot: Today, we think that one-to-one communication is the obvious use of the telephone. But it didn’t start off that way. Many early telephone entrepreneurs thought they would

DEVELOPING A CATALYTIC IDEA INVOLVES THREE COMPLEMENTARY PROCESSES

INTERROGATE THE BRAND

CHALLENGE THE MARKET

Developing a catalytic idea isn’t easy because the process isn’t linear.

UNDERSTAND THE CONSUMER


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Before their time, catalytic ideas take the shape of disturbing feelings, or unpleasant thoughts, or they feel just plain uncomfortable: When the first Walkmans appeared in 1979, they came as a shock to the “All great truths generation who had been brought up on ghetto blasters, thinking that music was begin as always an experience to be shared. As blasphemies.” they watched the first Walkman owners silently shake their bodies, many thought GEORGE BERNARD SHAW they were mentally unbalanced. Only once catalytic ideas become accepted by a good proportion of society do they start to feel comfortable: In most countries, the idea of drinking coffee cold with crushed ice is seen as fashionably refreshing. But that’s because fashionable people refresh themselves with the stuff. Before they did so, the idea of drinking coffee cold over ice was seen by most people as just plain weird. And then once they become accepted by everyone, they again become difficult to spot: Today, we think that one-to-one communication is the obvious use of the telephone. But it didn’t start off that way. Many early telephone entrepreneurs thought they would

DEVELOPING A CATALYTIC IDEA INVOLVES THREE COMPLEMENTARY PROCESSES

INTERROGATE THE BRAND

CHALLENGE THE MARKET

Developing a catalytic idea isn’t easy because the process isn’t linear.

UNDERSTAND THE CONSUMER


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make their fortunes not by selling phone calls, but by broadcasting orchestral concerts down phone lines to people who couldn’t make it to the theater. This means they’re fragile For a catalytic idea to be useful, it has to be conceived, developed, produced and bought before anyone gets the chance to become comfortable with it. This makes catalytic ideas difficult to identify and define, and they therefore need to be handled with care. These are some questions that help identify one: • Does it make you see the brand, product or market in a completely new light? • Does it challenge the way that people do things at the moment? • Will it cause discomfort to competitors? In short, rather than ask yourself ‘Is this a good idea?’, you should ask yourself of a catalytic idea, ‘Is this a thought which somehow disturbs, scares, or worries me?’ In short, you shouldn’t be looking for something that looks like an idea at all.

Catalytic ideas are fragile. They need to be handled like eggs.


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make their fortunes not by selling phone calls, but by broadcasting orchestral concerts down phone lines to people who couldn’t make it to the theater. This means they’re fragile For a catalytic idea to be useful, it has to be conceived, developed, produced and bought before anyone gets the chance to become comfortable with it. This makes catalytic ideas difficult to identify and define, and they therefore need to be handled with care. These are some questions that help identify one: • Does it make you see the brand, product or market in a completely new light? • Does it challenge the way that people do things at the moment? • Will it cause discomfort to competitors? In short, rather than ask yourself ‘Is this a good idea?’, you should ask yourself of a catalytic idea, ‘Is this a thought which somehow disturbs, scares, or worries me?’ In short, you shouldn’t be looking for something that looks like an idea at all.

Catalytic ideas are fragile. They need to be handled like eggs.


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OBTAINING A CATALYTIC IDEA Some advertising agency networks promise their clients lowest cost coordination across markets. But if minimizing the cost of your marketing is your primary goal, your most logical solution is not to squeeze your marketing development process to the bone. It is not to spend money on marketing at all. Other agency networks make promises in the area of what they call ‘creativity’. But media rates are today much higher when the principles of creative advertising were first laid down in the 1960s. And few marketers today can afford the levels of repetition needed to make creativity work - however witty their agency’s idea. Today, only with a catalytic idea welded firmly to it can a brand enter mankind’s imagination.

With over 50 brands of SUV on the market nowadays, the Land Rover brand risked oblivion. This RKCR/Y&R campaign keeps it differentiated as the original, authentic best.


TCI Final 2.0

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Page 30

OBTAINING A CATALYTIC IDEA Some advertising agency networks promise their clients lowest cost coordination across markets. But if minimizing the cost of your marketing is your primary goal, your most logical solution is not to squeeze your marketing development process to the bone. It is not to spend money on marketing at all. Other agency networks make promises in the area of what they call ‘creativity’. But media rates are today much higher when the principles of creative advertising were first laid down in the 1960s. And few marketers today can afford the levels of repetition needed to make creativity work - however witty their agency’s idea. Today, only with a catalytic idea welded firmly to it can a brand enter mankind’s imagination.

With over 50 brands of SUV on the market nowadays, the Land Rover brand risked oblivion. This RKCR/Y&R campaign keeps it differentiated as the original, authentic best.


TCI Final 2.0

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Only with a catalytic idea welded firmly to it can a brand deliver its stockholders the returns they dream of. Young & Rubicam is dedicated to the creation of powerful, market wrenching catalytic ideas. Marketers who seek to change consumer habits rather than merely to spend a budget should seek nothing less from their agency.

The emailable version of this booklet is at emea.yr.com/catalytic.pdf To watch the TV commercials featured in this booklet, open the emailable version and click on the relevant images. There are more Y&R booklets to download at emea.yr.com


TCI Final 2.0

17/11/05

17:17

Page 32

Only with a catalytic idea welded firmly to it can a brand deliver its stockholders the returns they dream of. Young & Rubicam is dedicated to the creation of powerful, market wrenching catalytic ideas. Marketers who seek to change consumer habits rather than merely to spend a budget should seek nothing less from their agency.

The emailable version of this booklet is at emea.yr.com/catalytic.pdf To watch the TV commercials featured in this booklet, open the emailable version and click on the relevant images. There are more Y&R booklets to download at emea.yr.com


TCI Final 2.0

17/11/05

17:17

Page 1


The Catalytic Idea