I've been spending some time reflecting on the similarities between the contemporary advertisement and the ancient parable as part of my DMin thesis.
[Some reflections on the similarity of the political cartoon and the parable can be found here.]
May I introduce you to one of my companions?
It is Mario Pricken. While he has a website, it his book Creative Advertising in which I have soaked for a few months. In this book Pricken provides a systematic analysis of 10,000 award-winning advertising campaigns. The idea is “to provide an insight into the alchemy of creative thinking ... to shed light on the strategies of top creatives and increase the understanding of the patterns that underlie great ideas.(8)”
The genius of the book is that he makes these 'patterns' appear accessible to amateurs and hacks like me. That is quite an achievement for a field so intimidating to the outsider. Pricken accomplishes this, primarily, through two concepts:
1. The Kickstart Catalogue: finding ideas that communicate
He lists 30 'creative strategies' utilised by advertisers and accompanies them with 200 'kickstart questions' which take people into each strategy in a methodical way. Far from being the intuitive and mysterious discipline that we assume it to be, advertising is methodical, like learning to ride a bike - according to Pricken. Each strategy is then illustrated from these award-winning advertising campaigns. It makes for a fascinating book to flick through - even if only to enjoy the pictures!
2. The DreamTeam: a framework for great creative performance
Here Pricken trumpets the brilliance which can gather in a team of brainstormers who trust each other. He believes that “anyone can have ideas; it’s only the implementation that needs to be done by pros."(20) He reckons beginners are a boon to creativity: “naivety can be a great way to open up new fields of ideas.” (20) This entire section is a superb resource for promoting creative thinking in groups.
Pricken contends that a DreamTeam utilising the Kickstart Catalogue, with its questions, can accomplish a lot. As one person noted, the book acts partly as a guide for creative thinking and partly as an inspiration for new ideas.
What has this to do with the parable?
For years I've been trying to describe the 'creative strategy' (to use Pricken's term) in the parabolic form. I have about ten with which I play. Remarkably, along comes these 30 which Pricken exegetes, and I reckon I can overhear the strategies of the parabolic in all but three or four of them. The alignment is startling. There is a similarity between the advertisement and the parable - just as there is with the political cartoon. In just his third paragraph, he writes this:
"Some creatives’ strength lies in analogy, while others always try to induce a change of perspective, and others develop ideas by turning everyday situations on their heads."
He could be describing the parable - with its comparative, occasional, paradoxical and subversive strategies.