Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #15: How to inspire without a big budget

I was briefing the creative agencies on our latest Herbal Essences campaign – ‘tame the wild’. How could I inspire them without a big budget?

 

The P&G office, as bright and spacious as it was, wasn’t exactly ‘wild’. Agency briefs usually looked like this: a room so small that people’s elbows were touching and bags were stuffed under the table; a long powerpoint presentation with at least 20 slides borrowed from the previous long powerpoint presentation; an attempt to uplift the mood and get the creative juices flowing 3 hours later just as a colleague is knocking on the door and reminding us to vacate the room because they have it booked.

I got bored just thinking about starting to plan another one of these briefing sessions. I fantasized about doing something big and exciting like taking the team on safari (to tame their wild, unruly hair, like in the TV ad). As you can imagine, such extravaganza was not included in the budget and I wanted to stay friends with the finance manager. It is always a good idea to be friends with the finance manager.

 

Since I couldn’t take my team on safari (but I would encourage you to do it if you get the chance), I brought the safari to the office. I booked the most spacious room in the building. I dressed it up like the African savannah, with shrubs and reds and yellows. Drum beats played in the background. The team wowed as they walked through the door. We sat on big cushions on the floor, around a ‘campfire’. The brief still contained the required information like pack size and product benefit but I weaved these details into a story, like the ones you tell around campfires. It was colorful. It was interactive. No one wanted to leave the room.

The team’s excitement translated into tangible results. The local marketing plan they proposed was wildly creative. There were elements we had never done before, like festivals and beauty trucks. We had a lot of fun whilst driving the business.

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 Reflecting back on this experience, it strikes me how quickly we grow out of child play and banish imagination to the unprofessional, not-results-focused-enough corner. We think that because we’re in a big, serious company, we need to act all big and serious to get stuff done. We mask the childish spirit with percentages and suits and complicated words. But I believe that, deep inside, this spirit remains and it takes any opportunity to manifest itself. Like when big and serious people unexpectedly walk into a makeshift African savannah in the middle of the office.

 

Get unstuck by flipping the situation. If you can’t take your team on safari, bring the safari to them.

 

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