The less money you have, the more creative you can be
Daniel Stein, CEO of EVB, shared that thought last night with #BUSCD, the class I teach at Boston University. Arguable, certainly. But as Daniel put it, “Give an agency $200,000 and they will come up with endless creative ideas. Give them $20 million and you get a TV campaign. Give them $200 million and you get really big TV campaign with celebrities and Superbowl spots.”
His lesson, of course, was that creative teams should welcome smaller budgets. The tighter financial reins won’t restrict your creativity. On the contrary, they’ll liberate it. Take away that extra zero and you won’t have to satisfy expected solutions and media buys.
Of course Daniel told his now famous story of EVB’s Elf Yourself. The casting call for a dancer went out over Craig’s List. A repainted wall in the office served as the green screen. And the entire production cost well under $30,000. That’s a pretty good price for one of the more popular brand icons of the last five years.
There’s no shortage of examples that demonstrate how a tiny budget can yield both big ideas and real results. A few memorable favorites (particularly because they were among the first demonstrations of new social platforms) include Poke’s Baker’s Tweet, CP&B’s Shocking Barack, Fallon London’s Tate Tracks, Mullen’s Will it Blend, and the Milwaukee burger joint AJ Bomber’s Swarm Badge event.
In every case the budget was the advertising equivalent of pocket change. In most cases TV would have been the wrong solution. And as a result, creators were forced to use digital and social media in ways that invited users to be part of the story.
I should give Daniel a shout out for another reason. He kindly took the Red-Eye from San Francisco to Boston specifically to speak to 25 students eager to hear and learn from the best. It’s a wonderful example of someone who has succeeded and prospered taking time to give something back and help the next generation of advertising thinkers and creators.
Thanks, Daniel. Twenty-five students, and one instructor, are all smarter for your visit.
Note: Will share Daniel’s #BUSCD deck once we get it online.
This article rings true as I am an online business owner, and I don't have the big budgets that the big companies has so I have to be creative in my marketing period.
Great things happen when you abandon the big budget idea and are forced to create within the budget. Thanks, Daniel.
SO good and the last paragraph says so much. Well done Daniel, and thanks for sharing Edward.
Elf Yourself was amazing! Hours of entertainment. Love this line -> "And as a result, creators were forced to use digital and social media in ways that invited users to be part of the story." So true. People want to interact with brands especially if they get to incorporate/integrate themselves and their identities with the brand.
Great quote. I found this as a start up which had to bootstrap. You really have to be creative, guerrilla marketing if you like, to compete with the big boys.
A little glimmer of hope. I can't count the amount of times I've heard from good creative people, "That's the budget?! How are we supposed to do anything with that?!" There are too many people who came up in this industry with access to massive budgets and a need for perfection.
As Zuck put it in his S-1 letter to shareholders, "Perfect is the enemy of done."
When in doubt, MAKE SOMETHING.