Mysterious cards reveal hidden secrets of creativity

Can the ideas in a pack of cards light your creativity on fire?

Roger Von Oech seems to think so.

After 50 years of helping titans like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates & Bob Metacalf on creativity he decided to put his best hard won secrets into a deck of cards.

It’s called the creative whack pack.

Each of the 64 cards has a big idea and it’s the best thing I have ever discovered on understanding the weird and wonderful phenomenon of creativity.

Just flicking through them can allow you to generate more marketing breakthroughs, with such ease, others will think you must have stuck a fork in a socket and electrocuted your brain to another level.

Here are three of my favourites from the deck that might help you find the missing link needed for a creative leap…

Rory Sutherland observes that in science the opposite of a good idea is wrong…

But in marketing the opposite of a good idea may also be another good idea.

For example since the boom of global travel airports like Changi have become tourist attractions in themselves. Boasting indoor rainforests, art exhibitions and butterfly gardens.

The problem is when your late for a flight the half hour walk to get to your gate becomes uncool and the direct-to-gate of Doncaster robin hood airport becomes more favourable.

The quality of the idea many times depends on the situation, so it always pays to think what the reverse of a current idea would look like and in what situations that could work.

Many great ideas came from putting two good ideas together.

Instagram combined the prevalence of smartphone cameras with social networking technology.

Airbnb took spare room capacity and paired it with marketing an authentic travel experience.

Red bull broke through the market by combining the idea of an energy drink with high-octane sports.

This is the essence Steve Jobs is getting at when he said creativity is just connecting things.

In 1926 Ruthrauff & Ryan put together a campaign that slingshotted a washing detergent called Rinso (Now Surf) into the home of nearly every American.

Here’s the headline that did it:

Who else wants a whiter wash – with no hard work?

The rest of the campaign contained proof of why Risno is effective and easy to use on clothes. Results produced by the headline were so strong they used it for it for over ten years.

The great thing is you can substitute the framework of the headline for nearly any other product:

Who else wants to learn Spanish – without practising for hours?..

Who else wants first class tickets – without paying first class prices?..

The key with substitution is to first find the principles the headline, lead, body copy etc. is using and then reverse engineering it. In this example its making a claim people want and matching it with the biggest objection someone may have about the claim – with social proof that people are already achieving the claim so it must have some truth in it.

When you understand the substitution card you may never run out of new headlines or creative angles to test.

As you can see the creative whack pack is brilliant if:

    • You are in a hyper-competitive market and ‘all the good ideas’ have been done..
    • Your product has become too familiar and you need to see it through new eyes..
  • You have lost your imagination..

In those dark hours just sifting through the cards can bring you big ideas by the dozen. Making it easy to unlock your potential and take your creativity to a higher level—without having to stick a fork in a socket!

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