A creative network of the idea, by the idea, for the idea

Friday, February 20, 2009

Restaurant Series II

One situation that I have seen often during my career as a creative in advertising is the apparent “Irreconcilable differences” between the account service dept. and the creative dept.
I’ve seen it in all the agencies I’ve worked for and the ones I’ve worked with.
Across GM and HM, in branding, promotions, PR, packaging and digital agencies.

It just seems like one of those accepted truths that nobody cares to challenge anymore.
We are different and we just have to resign to tolerate each other.

In many ways I wish we were more like a restaurant. A good restaurant of course.

Many times I’ve heard that account services are like waiters. That they just take the order and pass it to the kitchen.
But some waiters are exceptional. They actually get involved, improving the guest’s eating experience. They know the menu and the cook’s strengths. They ask questions about the guest’s appetite and make relevant recommendations. They pay attention to the party’s behavior and manages the rhythm of the kitchen to handle the guest’s expectations. But most importantly, they prioritize the welfare of the restaurant at all times.
We remember and talk about these waiters. They probably work at the best restaurants and are valued for their unique skills.

Some cooks are also exceptional. They prepare great food, in a distinctive way, adjusting their skills to the needs of the food market. They are professional and creative and they communicate with the waiter staff to make sure the guest receives the best possible eating experience.

This all sounds so simple, so easy, so logical.
Yet, it is so rare.

Most times the waiter is just doing his/her good job, which is to take an order and deliver it to the kitchen.
Most times a cook takes the order and cooks it, sometimes thinking that the food is beneath his/hers skills and complaining about the guests taste.

This is what I propose:

To the waiter.
  • You are the link between the cook and the guest. That’s a big responsibility. If you don’t like it, there are other jobs available for you at the restaurant.
  • To manage the guest is your responsability. The restaurant won’t grow a good reputation (and you won’t make many friends in the kitchen) if you take a plate back 3 times saying that the guest didn’t like it and that you see his point.
  • Some guest will tell you that they know a better way to cook. That doesn’t mean that you should tell the cook how to cook.
  • Every plate coming of the kitchen is the best the cook can make. Always. From the appetizer to the Fillet Mignon. Support all plates.
To the cook.
  • Know the type of restaurant you are cooking for. If it is a fast food restaurant, expect a fast food client. Nobody goes into a McDonalds asking for a white truffle burger. If you really want to cook that amazing gourmet burger, change restaurants.
  • Communicate with the waiter staff. If you don’t, they won’t know how to "sell" your food with the guests.
  • If the guest asks for a salad, the guest probably wants a salad. If you plan on delivering your special salad recipe, tell the guest ahead of time or they will be pissed off they didn’t get what they order.
The restaurant needs excellent cooks and great waiters. Let’s buy the best products, prepare a good menu and make the best food our cooks can make. Give our waiters the tools to deliver an amazing dinning experience and hope that our guest enjoy the food.

The truth is, for a restaurant to be exceptional, both need to be synched to deliver amazing experiences.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

10 ways to be memorable.

I know the Miami Ad School by reputation. I know people who graduated from the school and I know that they teach well. That’s why I follow the Miami ad school on twitter and that's how I came across this interesting article on their blog:
First Rule of Memorability; Be memorable.
At the Miami Ad School a great deal of time is spent getting across a very simple yet incredibly crucial bit of information; that communication has to be memorable in order to be effective.
I agree a 100% with them. As creatives we must come up with ideas that are memorable and new. Because as the article says, - the memorable ideas are the ones to leave a lasting impression on us. The best remembered experiences are the new ones.-
Obviously it is easier to be memorable when the brand, the product, the insight and/or the media plan are “memorable”.
When I finished reading the article I was left craving a little bit more. More on how. More on practical, more on examples.
So I decided to help those who like me, craved a little bit more how beyond the what.

10 ways to be memorable.
  1. Be outrageous. Say something few say, do something few do, break social rules, scream, be offensive or use nudity. We tend to remember what shock us.
  2. Be funny. Very funny. Budweiser has reached more than 60% of market share based on this principle. Every other beer trying to do humor, is actually building Bud brand.
  3. Be honest. Dove uses an honest approach to win the hearts of women all over the world.
  4. Be playful. With language and/or with visuals. So many examples come to mind; MasterCard, Ikea, HP, ESPN.
  5. Be impactful. When you see thousands of color balls rolling down a street, you remember.
  6. Be insightful. Nike delivers on many of these points but at the heart of its campaign there is a deep (and unmatched) knowledge of athletes.
  7. Be glamorous. We love celebrities. Pepsi loved celebrities. People loved Pepsi.
  8. Be real. The internet is demanding that ideas look less like a brand and more like your neighbor. 2009 Doritos superbowl ad.
  9. Be your consumer. Playstation, XBox are, in many ways, like their customers, believing that the games are real life.
  10. Be smart. Make the consumer think. The Economist is a brilliant example.
I’m sure I am forgetting some. But its a good start, isn't it?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Creativity is not copying. - Restaurant series I -

El Bulli is a restaurant in Barcelona. Google “best restaurant in the world”, you’ll see El Bulli is unanimously ranked the best, year after year. And the owner and chef; Ferran Adria is considered the most innovative chef working in a restaurant today.

In a new book called "A day at El Bulli", the chef describes in detail the insights, methods and creativity used by him and his team managing the restaurant and the menu.

In 1987 Jacques Maximin was asked what’s creativity? and he answered: “Creativity means not copying” This inspired Adria entire career.
  • Creativity means exploring. They spend 6 months brainstorming, 6 months executing. During the brainstorming season they develop new cooking techniques, new concepts for dishes. They investigate food and drinks, hardware and colors, designers and manufacturers.
  • Knowledge is essential. Investigation promotes understanding. Experimentation is promoted with ingredients gastronomically and scientifically.
Creative method I
  • A concept is the basic idea behind a dish, which can be elaborated in different ways to create different dishes. (idea)
  • Concept and technique. A technique is any process by which a product may be cooked or transformed. (execution)
  • A guest does not need to appreciate a new technique in order to enjoy the dish, but it adds to the experience.
Creative method II
  • Association. Create a list of ingredients, cooking methods, sauces and finished dishes. This creates limitless combination.
  • Inspiration. It requires a reference from any field to form the starting point.
  • Adaptation. Taking a dish that already exists and remaking it to one’s ow taste.
  • Deconstruction. Every part of the original dish, including its form is modified.
  • Minimalism. When magic is created with minimum ingredients.
  • The structure of the menu. Its planned the way the narrative of a film is structured. And its divided in 4 acts, each with its own character.
  • Relationship between guest and chef. The chef, the waiter and the guest play a part in the meal. The waiter plays an important role by helping the guest adapt to the rhythm of the kitchen and maximize their experience with their meal.
  • Role of the chef: ability to cook common sense and judgment, experience in other fields, knowledge, philosophy and creative abilities.
  • Role of the waiter transmitter: Create a warm atmosphere, conveys philosophy, serves the food, explains dishes, controls quality, controls timing.
  • Role of the guest: Gastronomic experience and knowledge, senses, sixth sense (enjoy cooking with intellect) spirit and emotions.
  • Art? El Bulli’s food is provocative, new and often surprising, but is always in the sphere of cooking.
Creative Methods III
Eating involves the use of all the senses. Each sense can be seen as a separate creative method. And they can be combined to produce the most interesting results.
  • Sight. First sense to transmit information about a dish. One of the principal ways to engage with a guest.
  • Hearing. Knowing the qualities of the food helps design dishes around the properties that deliver on this sense (large potato chips)
  • Touch. Temperature and texture.
  • Smell. Adding smell to dishes with no natural “smell”, creates an experience.
  • Taste. The heart of the act of eating. Taste is detecting flavors. Flavor is the range of sensory perceptions yield by the food.
  • Sixth sense. Intellectual satisfaction. Transgressing the traditional boundaries of cousine is an important par of the sixth sense, but it is crucial to preserve the distinction between playfulness and gratituos provocation.
  • New ways of serving food. A waiter needs to give instructions to help the guest enjoy the dish to the full. Particularly is it is a new concept for which there is no reference point.
Altering the structure of a dish can result in total freedom and the absence of any guiding rules, but the composition should not be anarchic or arbitrary. It should be grounded in analysis and reflection.

El Bulli serves 50 guests per day, 160 days per year. The restaurant is sold out a year in advanced. 4o chefs work at the restaurant and 26 people serving the dining room.

El Bulli shows that creativity is hard work, making choices and sticking to them.
Table for two please.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Same old NEW benefit.

Nice print by Leo Burnett Mumbay. Its for a hot sauce called Goody. I had never heard of it but the point is, the idea of communicating the burning benefit of a hot sauce is not as simple as it sounds. At least if one wants to be original.
Tabasco sauce has been delivering this same benefit for as long as I can remember. I even worked on the account back in 1998. And as creative as the Tabasco print ads were and are, I feel like this one is the simplest of them all.
I love it when we can be shown that creatives can still find great ways of delivering old (but good) benefits.