Creativity Comes From Plagiarism

I do like to think about innovation. Especially how it comes about. So when someone was talking to me about a post I made the other day on the subject, I loved more examples he gave me on the ‘eureka’ process.

They came from the 2009 documentary, Art & Copy. If you don’t have an hour and a half free just now, then this NYTimes article can give you a taste.

Basically, all creativity is plagiarism. The story of how a condemned man’s supposed final words became Nike’s worldwide slogan is indeed entertaining. In some ways, these kinds of tales remind me of one the first I ever heard. Back when I was a lad, I did like that Ray Parker Jr Ghostbusters theme song. Not because of the movie – I never saw that until the 90s – but because it was the English broadcaster’s sound-drop to the 84 LA Olympics.

Just like the copywriters about to pitch Nike, a day before ol’ Ray was due to present an idea to the film-makers, he had nothing. Completely blank. He was in a panic about it.

Staying up all night to try and get something down, he kept hearing an ad on the cable tv on in the background, played at silly o’clock when no-one was watching but him;

Who you gonna call? Drainbusters!

It was a cheap ad by a downtown plumbers. Naturally he pinched it and switched  it. He even enlisted the help of a troop of local 17-yr old girls from a nearby school as soon as he could, to sing it on the demo for him. And the Platinum discs flowed.

As this random quote I clipped from Psychology Today says, a homage is not necessarily copying as it comes from another point of view;

Robert E. Franken states that in order to be creative, you need to be able to view things from different perspectives.

In the context of selling, the lesson is clear. Are you re-inventing the wheel with your latest initiative? Account? Bid? Pitch? Strategy?

Someone, somewhere has already done something that could inspire you. Find it. Then “appropriate” it at once. There’s nothing wrong with standing on a giant’s shoulders. Just ask Sir Isaac Newton.

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