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MARKETING booKshElf
45
sPEEd REAd
The Art of the Idea
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John Hunt’s book describes the process for
creating the most imaginative ideas through
a series of 20 real-life observations
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As the title suggests, the book is, of course, about ideas. Not advertising ideas, or even communication
ideas, necessarily, but ideas in general – the people who have them and the people who don’t, the best
conditions for having them and the times when they fail to materialise, or die quickly when they do.
The writer is John hunt, worldwide creative director of ad agency TbWA and founder of
TbWA\hunt\lascaris in south Africa, a creative jewel-in-the-crown among TbWA’s global agencies.
Though I hadn’t come across hunt or his writing before, I’m reliably told that he’s an industry ‘legend’,
and you can certainly feel a lifetime’s creative wisdom in these pages.
CENTRAl IdEAs ANd ARGuMENTs TAKEAWAy PoINTs booK dETAIls
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from the opening sentence – “I’ll admit, to define What makes The Art of the Idea so valuable is TITlE: The Art of the Idea… and how it can
the arrival of an idea is not easy. sometimes it just the way it takes some of the truisms of creativ- change your life
suddenly appears unannounced and sometimes it ity and encourages readers to think harder about
has to be coaxed with a long line of breadcrumbs” whether they really live by them as much as they PublIshER: Powerhouse books
– hunt’s thoughts on idea generation continue in an could. Why do we start brainstorms with the
easy-going, approachable style, which is a welcome mantra that ‘no idea is a bad idea’? Why do we start AuThoR: John hunt
change from the stiff rhetoric of so much business brainstorms at all?
writing. Metaphors such as “the long line of bread- his memorable aphorisms, such as “incremen- AbouT ThE AuThoR: John hunt is
crumbs”, mean there’s real pleasure to be had in tal change is fine if you’re a glacier” and “if you’re an award-winning playwright, author and the
the words as well as the thinking. going to leap, you might as well quantum leap”, are worldwide creative director of TbWA. he
The book pays a lot of attention to the applied consistently to achieve the kind of reap- co-founded TbWA\hunt\lascaris with the
subject of how not to have a good idea. It discusses praisal hunt is looking for. mantra: “life’s too short to be mediocre.” he
expediency, politics and bureaucracy as examples The effect can be inspirational – for example: was intimately involved in Nelson Mandela’s 1993
of ideas’ worst enemies. Much of what hunt says “Reality is an unpredictable set of leaps and jerks election campaign and now lives in south Africa,
is common-sense: habitual working practices rarely that happen faster and faster. fresh thinking is the where he continues his TbWA worldwide role.
produce more than mental gridlock; logic applied only saddle we have to ride the unknown, so we
too soon kills imaginative thinking; and unambitious might as well get used to making it up as we go
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booK suMMARIsEd by
ideas rarely get off the ground. along. It also helps if we start enjoying the ride.”
yet I couldn’t help feeling that although part of The colloquialism and hyperbole may make some Neil Goodlad, managing partner,
a successful ideas business, our company sometimes of us reserved brits a little uncomfortable but I Clemmow Hornby Inge
falls foul of these and other of his maxims, and find the overall effect liberating; it’s a reminder
that this book is a great reminder of what a best of how lucky we are to live in the age we live in,
practice environment for generating and nourishing doing what we do.
ideas should look like. The book reads like an extended essay, as
hunt tells us ‘the art of the idea’ is surround- opposed to a marketing tome, and you’ll devour
ing yourself with ‘sunrise’, not ‘sunset’ people (the it at a single sitting. you’ll finish it enlivened and
sunriser gives out energy, the sunsetter soaks it up). emboldened, ready to leap… and when the ideas
It’s ensuring those people around you start from dry up again, as they sometimes do, you’ll dip back
a place different to your own. It’s recognising the into it to be energised again.
moods that give rise to our best thinking (positive
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and encouraging, not scared or sarcastic). It’s hear-
ing and trusting your instincts, especially at the stage
“ His memorable aphorisms, such as
when they’re still tricky to express convincingly. It’s
being brave enough to pursue ideas that take you
‘incremental change is fine if you’re a
into uncharted waters, and recognise when an idea
glacier’ and ‘if you’re going to leap, you
has had its day and there’s a need to start anew.
Again, if ideas are what you’re charged with
might as well quantum leap’, are
developing every time you come to work, you’re
going to be familiar with many of these codes of applied consistently to achieve the kind
conduct. And if it’s a real ideas manual you’re after,
full of detailed how-tos and exhaustive case studies,
of reappraisal Hunt is looking for”
this isn’t your book..
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ADM Feb 44-45 marketing bookshelf.indd 2 1/22/2010 15:04:34
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