They Kilted the Idea Oh Really

This is an aspect of selling that a lot of people miss. We are most frequently selling ideas. How we dress them up is not the idea, it's the execution. If the way you dress up the idea determines whether the idea lives or dies, then it's not an idea you're selling; it's an execution of an idea, or a very shallow idea, at best. So, for instance, when I hear advertising creative people say, "They killed the headline, so they killed the ad," I answer, "No, they killed the headline. The idea of the ad may very well still be alive. Write another headline."

Often, there are lots of headlines that can articulate a concept. Likewise, in any field there are lots of ways to execute an idea. If there are not lots of headlines that can articulate your concept, then it's likely a very shallow concept. That's what's wrong with pun headlines; that's what's wrong with pun visuals. If they kill the pun, they've killed the idea, because it's often a very shallow idea.

I believe that for the most part people remember ideas, not execution. They remember the primary concept behind things, not so much the manifestation of the idea itself. When people tell you about a movie, they very rarely recount the dialogue or the art direction or the stage direction. They relate the idea of the movie. People rarely come away with details, even though details play an important role in articulating the story, mood, or message. It's the same way with ads and many other products and services. They'll tell you the concept of the ad; there are lots of different words that can play off the concept. (There are exceptions. Budweiser's "Wassup?" is a good example because the execution and the idea were very tightly integrated. In most ads that is not the case.)

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