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Codifying creativity: An analysis of Pokemon Go

What was the brief that led Nintendo to create Pokemon Go? What if you stripped that back and thought about the mandatories that made that phenomenon happen? What would the client have asked of its agency? Probably something like this:

“Deliver something that appeals to everyone, becomes instantly talked about, makes people change their daily habits, demands their attention, creates interaction and has that innate shareability.”

The point here is, this would be the perfect creative brief.  It’s clear about who needs to be involved (everyone); it is clear about what the desired communications outcome is (fame); it is clear about what the desired audience outcome is (change daily habits); it is clear about what the marketing outcome is (demand attention); and it is clear about what the desired audience action is (shareability). A brilliant combination of thinking and action.

Clarity from client to agency and then agency back to client, is the fundamental factor in generating outstanding creativity. And let’s face it, (insert perplexed face emoji) creativity by its very nature is subjective.  What’s alluring to some is unutterably dull to others.  But clarity at the outset can help lead to a creative solution that both clients and agencies can get excited about.

So how do we achieve clarity?

The simplest shortcut to it is sharing a common language from the outset, so that what is understood by the client as creativity is what is shared by the agency in their response.  

Language is the shortcut we all use to communicate, but the problem a lot of agencies face is that they have their own language that isn’t necessarily shared with their client and vice versa.  Especially when the client contact has to then sell the idea to non-communications people to secure budget.

With something as important as creativity we have to develop a common code - the emojis of creativity, if you like - where imagination meets the code to express it, ‘the Emojination’: something that is easily understood and easy to share.  Because great creativity takes time and time is still money. 

This codification of what WE (client and agency) mean when we say ‘creative’, can have a number of beneficial outcomes:

  1. Efficiency: time devoted to the right route
  2. Comprehension: a shared goal at the outset
  3. Translation: an easy way to sell the concept from agency to client, from client to client departments
  4. Effectiveness: hitting the nail on the head
  5. Affection: an innate love for the response because it has mirrored the codes at the start

What the codification of creativity still allows within the client/agency process is the element of surprise, pushing the boundaries, delivering fame (and awards) and approaching the brief from every angle….what it should mitigate is the most frustrating phrase for a client to utter and an agency to hear: “I just don’t really like it/understand stand it/see it working”

And to go back to the beginning, think of the clarity around the name Pokemon Go – same Pokemon characters you know and love, now with added interactivity.  Creativity, coded.


Article written by Rebecca Wagstaffe, Business Development Director, 3 Monkeys Zeno

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