The Slippery Surface of Irrelevant Brilliance

In the creative industries, we applaud displays of genius. We venerate the ability to generate outstanding work and ideas that contribute to solving the problem at hand. 

It's true that great advertising and great marketing are generally motivated by a brilliant idea, a stroke of genius if you will. But the actual execution of any project requires hard work.

 David Ogilvy, photo courtesy of Advertising Hall of Fame/Wikimedia Commons

David Ogilvy, photo courtesy of Advertising Hall of Fame/Wikimedia Commons

Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration, Thomas Edison famously said. Advertising pioneer David Ogilvy agreed. His agency's most successful advertising campaigns were characterized by meticulous research into the product or brand they were promoting. It was a form of genius by method.     

"If you are too lazy to do this kind of homework, you may occasionally luck into a successful campaign, but you will run the risk of skidding about on what my brother Francis called ‘the slippery surface of irrelevant brilliance’,” wrote Ogilvy.

Don't skimp on doing your research and applying yourself methodically to a problem. Your approach will pay dividends over time.