The Drum has joined forces with Creative Circle to make some of the content of their publication more widely available online. In the latest of a series of extracts, Graham Fink, chief creative officer, Ogilvy & Mather China, looks at why advertisers should take the Google creative approach when faced with a challenging question.
Let’s say you decide to give up advertising and apply for a job at Google. One of the questions I’m reliably informed that they ask you is this: You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving after 60 seconds. What do you do?
What a great question for a job interview. And a very creative one too. Wish I had thought of this kind of thing when interviewing students. Or even for a Creative Director for that matter. What would you come up with? Right now, this minute?
…When I heard this for the first time, I visualized the inside of the blender from the point of view of a nickel. Looking up at these giant blades, I then immediately knew the answer. Lie down underneath the blades. There would be plenty of room. I felt quite pleased with myself and visualised collecting my first Google award and placing it on my shelf, when an old nag appeared at the back of my mind and with her gnarled finger pointed to the top of the blender and asked me how would that help me when the food started to be poured in?
My shelf was bare again and realising I’d probably run out of time (almost 60 seconds and also the interviewers patience) I beat the side of my head for another idea. Quick. Anything.
I imagined I would take a deep breath and as the food got pulped I would swim upwards as fast as I could and stick to the side of the blender walls. A bit like the spinning walls of The Rotor at the fairground when the floor disappears beneath your feet and you are safely stuck there…
Now I felt deflated and annoyed with myself, knowing that I had probably flunked my interview, and consoled myself with the fact I worked in advertising.
But hang on a minute… isn’t this very similar to the challenges we face everyday? We get set a problem and have to use our minds in creative ways to solve it. I sometimes think creative people forget what an amazing job we have. Far too often we get bogged down with too much information, conflicting views
from clients or too many opinions internally. This often takes the fun out of it. But it’s our own fault. Great creative people can train their minds to let all that wash over them and stick to the fun part. Paul Arden was one such person. He’d carefully listen to everything and then just ignore it. He would then come
up with something so surprising that it blew the cacophony of irrelevance away.
They say there is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind, but if you only have 60 seconds you will either panic and your mind will freeze or you will see how many different types of ideas you can come up with in that time.
Paul would have many.
So do most children.
And that’s why they would probably get a job at Google, who are looking for as many answers as possible and a few surprising ones too.
Buddha said that the answer is in the question. And if you read it again you will see that it tells you your mass is reduced but your density remains the same. So if you were shrunk down to the size of a nickel you would weigh practically nothing, but your muscles would be much stronger in proportion. Therefore, the most surprising (Google approved) answer would be to simply jump.
Next time you get set a task, do what great creative people do. Listen carefully…….then ignore it all. And come up with something totally surprising.
Advertising is in desperate need of it.
You can order a copy of the 2012 Creative Circle Magazine here.
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