In advertising, the idea has always been king.

It supersedes content, execution, and sometimes even what the customer thinks they want. But it’s always there, an ever-present prop that centres people around a communication.

And it’s best with one compelling proof point.

Advertising without a central theme or idea centred by a compelling proof point is easily spotted for a number of reasons, including:

  1. It generalises, bringing a scattergun approach that attempts to appeal to everyone but ends up appealing to no one (or worse, alienating everyone)
  2. It relies on the execution too heavily, which often means it’s channel-specific
  3. It’s shit

Recently, I’ve noticed that the idea is becoming secondary, or completely non-existent, particularly in the digital space. Too often there is reliance on beautiful graphics, but with no clear message behind it. Other times, the communication has pretentions to be an idea, but then tries to squeeze in five other proof points into an already over-cooked concept. Or the user journey is presented as the idea.

This leads to confusion, or boredom. And neither of these are good things.

I call this the digital comb-over: trying to hide a poor idea or execution under layers of proof points. It only opens a campaign to ridicule.

Better to be bald, right?