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‘Learn the rules... and then learn how to break them’: top tips from the Chip Shop Awards jury

'Learn rules, then learn how to break them': tips from the Chip Shop jury

They are the awards that have no rules and every year The Drum’s Chip Shop Awards praise unadulterated creativity that refuses to abide by boundaries.

True to form, this year’s awards (which took place on Friday 19 June) featured winning work that was thought-provoking, daring and intentionally tactless. The only difference was that, this year, it was hosted virtually. But what can these awards teach marketers about creativity and how to make it cut through?

As part of The Drum’s Can-Do Festival, the Chip Shop jury caught up with our executive editor, Stephen Lepitak, to talk about creating disruption. Tuning in to the session were Amy Garrett, managing director of Trouble, Beano Studios; Vicki Maguire, chief creative officer of Havas London; and Ben Golik, chief creative officer of M&C Saatchi. You can watch the session in full here or enjoy our quick round-up of their top tips below.

Break the rules

“Rules are there to be broken,“ insists Maguire. “And I think that the best creativity, the best ads and the best comms always has an enemy. It has something to rub up against and, a lot of that time, that enemy is the rules. So learn the rules... and then learn how to break them.“

She adds: “Learn not to be afraid of them and learn not to stick to them.“

Give us guardrails, not a blank slate

“The weird thing is that people think creatives love a great big blank slate... to be able to do anything, go anywhere,“ Golik swears. “But, actually, the best thing is some guardrails. Particularly for me, to actually knowing what you’re playing and what you’re aiming for... the more detail you give me the better, because it means that you know where you’re playing. An open brief is actually more terrifying.

“Having something to work and measure yourself against really matters. So, weirdly, creatives love guardrails to corral that madness and give you something to point it out.“

Humour cuts through

Humour is what really generates engagement. If you’ve nailed it, it’s gonna cut through. “The laugh out loud, slapstick stuff is really hard to get right, but if done properly it can be really great,“ Garrett insists.

“You have to have a massive sense of humor to do this job for as long as any of us have, and to not take it too seriously. If you see the work and you don’t get a buzz out of it, if you don’t get that feeling from it, then you’re in the wrong job. That’s why we’re all doing it – or at least why we should all be doing it.“

The fewer neat edges, the better

“The best thing is when you walk out of the brief and you’ve got that first scratch of an idea,“ Golik insists. “The idea has triggered off in your head because you think it’s an interesting take on something.“

“The temptation,“ he continues, “is to wrap it up all neatly, but the less neat edges the better. We’d like to trim and clip and perfect and whip and strip and get something that goes through a system, but that gets all the interesting bits knocked off it along the way.

“The quickest and first ideas are often the best ones. And if you can stay true to what it started out as, I think that can be incredibly powerful.“

The Chip Shop jury in conversation with The Drum‘s Stephen Lepitak took place as part of The Drum‘s Can-Do Festival, an online event celebrating the positive energy, innovation and creative thinking that can make the marketing community a powerful force for good. You can watch the interview in full here.

Sign up to watch forthcoming sessions and see the full Can-Do schedule here.

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