At the IMC Conference on Thursday, 14 March, professor Elaine Rumboll gave a keynote speech about how marketers need new friends. Specifically, they need to befriend the ‘cool kids’ — namely playfulness, bravery and curiosity.

Rumboll explained that most marketers are bullied by time, adrenaline and the need for control, but “innovation and creativity come from a place of not knowing, so be brave and take risks with your campaigns”.

Why we should be more playful, brave and curious

The world of marketing is driven by high pressure environments and demands for creative campaigns NOW. But how can we expect the campaigns to be of high quality when the people behind the campaigns are stressed out and being bullied into using ideas they don’t believe in? In short — they can’t.

To get the best possible campaigns and marketing ideas, Rumboll says marketers need to “reframe [their] thinking and be playful in the face of an adrenalised workplace”.

So, what are the benefits of being more playful, brave and curious?

Well, Rumboll’s company, The Creative Leadership Consultancy, offers masterclasses and focussed workshops where it addresses the uncertainty within creativity by inspiring participants through play, agility, curiosity and energy.

One method they use is called Lego Serious Play, where individuals are able to reflect on their decision-making through the act of play in a controlled environment.

“What is so interesting is that it’s often the people who are the most brilliant [who] go into that place of over-seriousness. To them, it matters so much that the work they do is considered incredible that they end up being alienated, burnt out, cynical, disengaged and actually incapable of creating things that are extraordinary anymore,” she says in an article for Mark Lives.

“What play does is create a space where you can just laugh and try again.”

Allowing people to relinquish control and be relaxed in the face of change is what Rumboll says must be done in order to come up with creative solutions.

How do we reshape marketers’ thinking?

The first thing that marketers need to come to terms with is that change in inevitable, and that’s okay. We live in a world where technology is constantly being upgraded and the ‘next big thing’ is always on the horizon. To get the most out of our marketing strategies and campaigns, we need to embrace change, not fight it.

Rumboll said that the best way to learn to embrace change is to play. As an example, Rumboll encouraged the audience at the IMC Conference to play a game of ‘Snap’. She explained the rules and allowed everyone to play a few rounds.

“You’ve never played this game with these rules before, but were you afraid to play it?” she asked. “Of course not, and that is what marketing needs to be like.”

She suggested that marketers should play with their campaigns, and if they lose — simply laugh it off and try again.
“What play does is create a space where you can just laugh and try again.”
When the deadline is closing in, and your clients are hounding you to perform, Rumboll says that marketers need to rely on their three ‘cool friends’ — playfulness, bravery and curiosity. Don’t get sucked into a space of negativity, as no good campaigns can come out of that.

“Unexpected insights, ultra relevant ideas and masterful storymaking are needed to break through. And yet, these are not outputs that can be managed and squeezed into timesheets and teleconferences,” Rumboll said.

“Digital technologies offer us exponential scale, but with only 24 hours in a day, it is going to be our creativity — not our hours — that will need to keep pace.”

What are your thoughts on using these three ‘cool friends’ to build and execute better marketing strategies? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Now that you’re feeling all brave, curious and playful, it’s time to youth-proof your brand! Read our article to find out how.