Magic doesn’t happen by magic

  • Regular voices
  • February 7, 2017
  • Michael Goldthorpe
Magic doesn’t happen by magic

Why did Friends take over the world, while hundreds of similar shows fizzled out? Why is Carpool Karaoke a must-view, while millions of hours of YouTube are unwatched? Why is a low budget 80s-throw-back-sci-fi the superstar standout of the $5 billion invested in Netflix content? I think the answer is magic. But what is magic? How does it happen? And how can we make magic in this strange old game we call advertising?

Spoiler alert: I don’t have the answer. But I do have some ideas on how to clear the field, erect a tall pole and dance a frantic rain dance in the hope that magical lightning strikes.

Magic doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

“It’s my idea”. Possibly the most oxymoronic sentence in advertising. Or just standard moronic. It doesn’t work like that. I tried. When I first left agency land, I thought I could beat them at their own game. Having spent four years helping deliver some of the best advertising campaigns in the country, I thought I had the recipe nailed on my own. I was wrong. One person does not make magic. It’s the collision of different ideas from different people that forces the magic out. “It’s our idea”.  Magic only happens in a team.

Magic doesn’t happen by committee.

The challenge of collaboration is that too many cooks spoil the broth. My favourite line from the first set text at ad school was “pecked to death by ducks”. None of the ducks are predators. None of them want to break the idea. But magic will never withstand an onslaught of valuable opinions from multiple stakeholders who can very quickly and well-meaningly quack an idea into obscurity. Every idea needs a champion. Magic only happens in a team with strong leadership.

Magic doesn’t happen out of balance.

Advertising isn’t art, it’s science. It’s not even science, it’s business. More specifically, advertising is a strange industry headquartered on the intersection of all of the above. It’s a precarious location. Everyone is right. Everyone is wrong. And there’s plenty of cash at stake in all directions. But too much focus on art and ads don’t say anything. Too much focus on business and they don’t engage. Too much focus on the science and everyone falls asleep. It’s keeping that balance, throughout the industry and through different roles in agencies that really makes things work. Magic only happens in a balanced team with strong leadership.

Magic doesn’t happen without trust.

It sounds obvious, but it’s worth remembering. Real trust doesn’t build over days or weeks. It develops over years. Some mates of mine once won a Lion for some work they did for a bank. Still jealous. But I also claim it. The previous year we’d cajoled our client to push out the boat and do something risky. And they did. And it worked. And that helped build the trust that paved the way for a braver, wackier (okay, more brilliant) idea that really was magic. But it never would have flown without the trust we all built as a team. Magic only happens in a balanced team of trusted peers with strong leadership.

Magic doesn’t happen in a fog.

If there’s one thing that connects all of the most brilliant advertising ideas you’ve ever seen, it’s a clear, single-minded proposition born of a pure customer insight. The word 'and' in a brief is like Kryptonite to magic. Of all the time spent thinking and crafting, debating and selling, the most valuable time of all is spent crafting the brief. When you start on a tightrope balancing business, science and art, throwing in a juggling act will more likely mean show stop than show-stopper. Magic only happens in a balanced team of trusted peers with strong leadership and a clear, single-minded goal.

Magic doesn’t happen by magic.

There are plenty of things that kill magic. The list could go on. Magic doesn’t happen overnight – it’s crafted, considered, rethought and refined over time. And magic definitely doesn’t strike twice. Ten years ago the brief du jour was “Like the Yellow Treehouse only…” today it’s a reference to Carpool Karaoke or “We’re thinking it’s like Uber for washing powder”. Neither is the recipe for success. The magic of magic is that you can’t predict it.

Sometimes that lightning strikes and sometimes it just gets stormy and a tree falls over. But there are things we can do to give it the best shot. Be open. Be clear. Go with the flow, trust your gut, trust the team. Be pragmatic about picking your battles and dogmatic about fighting the ones that matter.

But more important than any of those, be passionate about the potential of magic. It doesn’t happen every day. Or every year. In over a decade in the industry, I’ve made magic twice. And I’ll never forget either campaign. Nor will any of the trusted team I worked with or the customers who enjoyed the work, felt the magic and made the tills ring. But for me, magic is always the goal. It’s rare, fragile, unpredictable and often unattainable… but you’ll never make magic if you don’t try. And for me, even the smallest chance of making magic happen is the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.

That’s what I reckon, what do you think?

Michael Goldthorpe is the owner of creative agency Hunch. 

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Typing into Google is so 2016

  • Regular voices
  • April 24, 2017
  • Ben Rose
Typing into Google is so 2016

NIB's Ben Rose on why he anticipates more people will be cracking jokes with Google and Amazon's voice-activated services in the near future.

Read more
news

Talent wars: should agencies be wary of Google, Facebook and Air New Zealand?

Following news that two high-profile creatives left adland for Google, we ask whether other agencies should be reinforcing the fortress to keep their talent safe ...

topics
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...

Tourism Ticker, the tourism industry's latest source for news

  • Media
  • April 21, 2017
  • Jihee Junn
Tourism Ticker, the tourism industry's latest source for news

It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry attracting millions of backpackers, campers and coach tours every year, as well as employing thousands of New Zealanders to service it. So it’s a mystery as to why tourism doesn’t get the specialist news coverage it warrants. Luckily, two journalists are on the task with the launch of Tourism Ticker, a digital news site for New Zealand’s flourishing tourism industry.

Read more
Sponsored content

Energising business - Shopper marketing goes strategic

Like so much in the marketing and communications arena, much of what is done is based on intuition and approximation. Shopper Marketing has tended to ...

Yahoo axes remaining local editorial staff

  • Movings/Shakings, brought to you by Marsden Inch
  • April 20, 2017
  • Damien Venuto
Yahoo axes remaining local editorial staff

A former Yahoo employee, who preferred to remain anonymous, revealed to StopPress this morning that all remaining editorial staff at the New Zealand office of Yahoo have been let go. PLUS: Yahoo New Zealand Facebook traffic redirected to Yahoo 7.

Read more

Hey planners: you’re fired

  • Regular voices
  • April 20, 2017
  • Vincent Heeringa
Hey planners: you’re fired

Vincent Heeringa takes a look at the customer journey that is now so complex, media planners just became redundant.

Read more
Sponsored content

Looking at direct through a digital lens

Think ‘direct marketing’ and what comes to mind? If it’s personalised mail and email you’re not wrong, but in the context of our digital world, ...

Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit