Imagine Lawrence & Schiller as an advertising factory, where the chief commodity is creativity and the raw materials are inventive ideas.
Demand dictates that before the finished product ships, research and development on the next export is underway.
How, then – with the machine in constant motion – does the team make sure the gears are properly oiled?
One answer lies with “function forums,” which offer opportunities for professional development – plus pizza and sandwiches.
At function forums, employees across disciplines – from creative to finance and everywhere in-between – come together to learn more about the ever-evolving business. There’s usually a PowerPoint, and more importantly, a key message or focus.
But even breakouts meant to breathe new life are at risk of becoming stale. And so, Art Director Les Cotton and and Associate Creative Director Brett Summers recently put together a function forum for the ages. And things got weird. Intentionally weird.
“Les and I have worked together for five years on various creative projects, and we always try to push boundaries,” Brett said. “As we were spitballing ideas for our forum, the theme ‘Get weird’ kept coming up. Whatever it is, we just wanted to make sure it was weird.”
“Get Weird,” the official title of their forum, was just that – a little bizarre, a bit strange and very beneficial. Brett and Les assembled six interactive stations, which ran the gamut of artistic styles.
One station featured bubble art, where employees crafted unique paintings by blowing colorful bubbles onto a blank sheet. Another station let people plug into a vinyl record simultaneously and listen together. Yet another featured interesting books and illustrations. A nearby projector displayed an avant-garde French film. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime – the colorful co-op PS4 game, not the Bruce Cockburn song – was hooked in at one station for people to play together. A nearby laptop showed off three handpicked short films, each different – if only unified by their weirdness.
Brett even got in on the act, at one station reciting a passage from “Confessions of an Advertising Man,” written by the “Father of Advertising,” David Ogilvy. Near the end of the passage, he repeated:
The creative process requires more than reason. Most original thinking isn’t even verbal. It requires “a groping experimentation with ideas, governed by intuitive hunches and inspired by the unconscious.”
“Some quotes in there embodied our philosophy for the hour: embracing the role of innovator and rabble-rouser,” Summers said. “It’s incumbent upon us to be the ones who see things through a different lens. It was kind of a rallying cry for the creative team, and for everybody.”
Creativity requires inspiration, and often is aided by collaboration. And sometimes that inspiration comes easier when you embrace the weird.
That mantra has proven effective for creative people like Les and Brett.