What is it about creativity that frightens some people? Maybe “frighten” isn’t the proper word. Could it be intimidate? Alienate? Unnerve? Stifle? There’s something about creativity that simply doesn’t sit well with a good number of people. I’ve observed a growing trend over the past year among those who have attended our “Creative Innovation” seminars and “Get Back in the Box” keynote presentations. We’ve delivered these programs from coast to coast so location isn’t a factor. The audiences have represented a wide variety of industries so occupation plays no part in this trend. We’ve addressed both men and women, young and old, tall and short, executives and students, all religions, and all nationalities … the trend shows no preferences. Large numbers of the populace today truly believe they simply aren’t creative. They can’t think in, out, or anywhere in the vicinity of the box. Some even doubt the existence of the box. They can’t perceive themselves doing anything at all that might be considered creative. It’s been my experience that the majority of them are absolutely wrong. They ARE indeed creative. They simply aren’t comfortable or familiar with that reality.
We inaugurated this “Out-of-the-Box Thinking” feature just a few weeks ago. We promised to share real-life examples from the business world that will encourage you to join this inevitable revolution of creative thinking. Through daily observation alone, I’ve already stockpiled more than a dozen examples over the last week. If you’ll simply focus on the many instances that appear in our daily routine, you’ll be amazed at the number of situations from which we can draw to enhance our own efforts. For instance …
Visit your local grocery store. Pick an aisle — let’s say the cookie aisle. That’s a pretty mundane area. Now let’s focus on a company. How about Nabisco? They’ve been around for what seems forever. Now zero in on a brand. Let’s say the ever-popular Oreo. This very popular sandwich cookie, consisting of a sweet, white creme between two circular chocolate cookies, has been gracing our cookie jars since 1912. More than 490 billion Oreo cookies have been sold since they were first introduced, making them the best-selling cookie of the 20th century.
Take a good look at this very basic, but scrumptious, snack delicacy as you ponder the following challenge. As the director of a creative team of associates, you have been charged with the task of developing a strategy to market this “classic” goody in such a way that it will dominate shelf space and entice additional sales in a very competitive market place. I’ve actually issued this challenge as a group activity in several seminars and was somewhat surprised at the lack of imagination, risk-taking, creativity, or resourcefulness I witnessed. I heard remarks such as “What can you do with a cookie?” and “There’s not much to work with!” along with “If it could be done, someone would have already done it!”
Well, someone has. I don’t know if you’ve noticed it as yet but the creative folks at Kraft/Nabisco have done a very impressive job of not only dominating grocery shelf space across the nation but also overshadowing their competition in most every aspect of the media. The simplistic little cookie pictured above has been altered and promoted in ways never considered by the average Oreo connoisseur. Take a look at some of what they now offer to accomplish their competitive challenge.
- Double Stuf Oreo − twice the normal amount of white cream filling.
- Double Delight Oreo − chocolate cookies with two fillings, notably peanut butter ‘n chocolate, mint ‘n creme, and coffee ‘n creme flavors.
- Flavored Oreos containing a sole filling in a variety of creme flavors, including peanut butter, chocolate, mint, caramel, orange, and strawberry milkshake.
- Springtime, Halloween, and Christmas special edition Double Stuf Oreos are produced with colored frosting depicting the current holiday (yellow, orange and red).
- Mino Oreos are bite-sized versions of ordinary Oreos.
- White Fudge Oreos and Milk Chocolate Oreos covered in either a layer of white fudge or chocolate respectively.
- Shrek Oreos — limited edition Oreos released to promote the feature film.
- Oreo Cakesters — 2 chocolate soft snack cakes with vanilla or chocolate cream in the middle.
- Oreo Handi-Snacks — plastic holders with strips of Oreo Cookies and a small box of icing.
- Deep Fried Oreos — Regular Or Double Stuf Oreos, dipped in batter, and deep friend for about 30 seconds — sometimes sold at carnivals and fairs.
- Oreo Milkshakes containing Oreo cookies
- Domino Pizza’s “Oreo Pizza.”
- Oreo Pie Crust.
- Jell-O Oreo Pudding — chocolate pudding on top and bottom, vanilla in the middle.
- Post Cereal Oreo Os.
- Organic Oreo − plain Oreo cookies made with organic flour and organic sugar.
- Easy-Bake Oreo Mix − two easy-bake chocolate cakes with a marshmallow filling topped off with an Oreo cookie topping.
- Oreo ice Cream (Blended Oreo cookies in vanilla ice cream).
- Oreo Ice Cream Sandwich (Extra large Oreo wafers with ice cream in the middle).
- Oreo Ice Cream Bar (Chocolate).
- Mint Oreo Ice Cream (Blended Oreo cookies with mint ice cream).
- Oreo Madness (a dessert offered at TGI Friday’s).
- Ready-to-Spread Oreo Frosting.
- KFC/Oreo Brownie.
- Oreo chocolate hazelnut bar.
- Oreo Megacookie.
- Oreo Granola Bars.
- White-Fudge-Covered Oreos.
- Reduced-Fat Oreos.
This wasn’t intended to be an Oreo commercial. It was meant to prove a very obvious point. Glance again, if you will, at the simple little delicious cookie pictured above. Reflect on the challenge I issued to you and how you felt about the possibility of accomplishing it. Challenged? Disillusioned? Frustrated? Now review what the creative staff at Nabisco came up with and realize that what you see is just a sample of what can be accomplished.
Creativity doesn’t apply to product alone. If you watched the Super Bowl this year you saw a very creative Oreo commercial starring the two Manning brothers. Consider these facts:
- Quarterback Peyton Manning was the MVP for last year’s Super Bowl winners.
- Younger brother and quarterback Eli Manning was the MVP for this year’s Super Bowl Winner.
- Cost of a 30-second Super Bowl commercial this year was $2.6 million!
- The brothers introduced the DSRL (Double Stuf Racing League) … a fierce competition to see who’s fastest to twist, lick, and dunk their Oreo cookie.
- Nabisco created an official DSRC website where you can register to compete and purchase Official League stuff such as T-shirts, head bands and mugs. The commercials continue to run on TV.
There’s obviously little chance that you have the opportunity and privilege to work with the best-selling cookie of the 20th century. That’s not the point. Creative efforts can do for your organization, product and/or service what it did for Nabisco’s cherished little cookie. It simply requires time, effort, patience, and the application of any combination of the many available creative tools and strategies available to us today. This is just one of the many examples of creativity in action that we can find in our everyday environment. Be alert, search for possibilities and don’t eliminate opportunities by excluding ideas because they don’t happen to relate to your business or challenge. Seek, observe, analyze, adapt and apply … again and again and again. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!