Why Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Creativity

by Jay Selig, Marketing & PR Manager

To be creative is to have the quality of something created rather than imitated. I’m usually on board with Merriam Webster, but this got me thinking, “Am I only creative if I come up with the next big idea?”

For brands and agencies, the thought is that if we want to stand out, we need the next big thing! That’s great and all, but how often do we actually create something that’s never been seen before?

I’ve been part of some amazing projects, but are they all groundbreaking concepts? No, absolutely not. More often than not, the best ideas stem from those we’ve already seen or done before.

So if my team was to reimagine a concept we’ve already seen and make it even better, does that make us any less creative? Not in my opinion. We’re at a point in our history where taking an idea and putting our own twist has become the basis for creativity.

I don’t see it as people becoming lazy in their creative thinking. I see it as people recognizing the greatness of certain ideas and intending to shine that light from a new perspective.

 

Movies

There is no industry with a more creative foundation than the film industry. From creating the screenplay to each individual performance to the editing and special effects, there is so much that goes into making every film stand out in its own unique way.

There is also no industry more saturated than the film industry. We’ve gotten to the point where original films are far outnumbered by reboots or those based on an existing story. In 2014, less than 25% of major releases were considered original.

Does that mean we’ve lost all sense of creativity? Have our filmmakers lost a step? Not at all. In fact, I think modern day films are bringing a heightened level of creativity compared to that of their predecessors.

Consider that since 2002 we’ve had three different takes on Spiderman. The Fast and the Furious series is on its eighth installment. The Star Wars franchise released yet another movie. Are these movies devoid of creativity? In my opinion, it’s just the opposite.

Taking on an existing title requires the ability to make something your own. That doesn’t happen by accident. If you’re going to drive consumers to the box office, you need a creative edge. You need something that differentiates you and makes your end product more viable than the original.

If anything, this industry is proving that the “big idea” is not the only option that can succeed.

 

Events

We’ve seen what has become of the film industry, but that sense of reuse and reinvention isn’t singular to this industry. Event and experiential marketing are perfect examples of how brands and agencies are turning certain ideas into award winning experiences.

Agencies often pride themselves on their creative ability, but I’d venture to say that none bring completely original ideas to the table every time around. If everything was original, the process would take weeks, if not months, to run its course. That doesn’t mean we aren’t flexing our creative muscle.

 

Sporting Events

Have you been to a sporting event recently? To be honest, the overall landscape of activations at these events is disappointing. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen brands host football accuracy activations. For baseball games, you might see an opportunity to test your throwing velocity. It’s fun, but not memorable.

Those are instances where lack of creativity is apparent. On the flipside, there are particular activations that are taking those generic tasks and transforming them into something more memorable and engaging.

Take the example of the 40-yard dash that football players run at the annual combine. Would running a 40-yard dash at a football fanfest excite you? It doesn’t for me. However, it might if that mundane task was transformed into something more.

How about if you were racing your favorite player side-by-side to see how you stack up? Well, not the player, but a 3D rendering of him on a high-definition screen the length of the track. Now that is something I’d be interested in.

This is the type of thing I’d laud as creative. I don’t think anyone would disagree if you were to see it live as well.

 


 

 

The point I’m trying to make is that creativity isn’t limited to those ideas that are grandiose in nature. In fact, some of the most creative ideas are the simple ones that evolve into something more useful and more engaging. One person comes up with a good idea and another finds a way to make it even more creative.

Imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery. In a lot of cases, it’s also the most sincere form of creative innovation. Let’s not get hung up so much on shooting for the big idea, but instead focus on those goals more attainable. If we can do that, our creativity will shine brighter than ever before.