Notes from Goa: Needed, some brilliant small ideas

Small ideas are brilliant, says Pat Burns, Creative Head at BMB Madison, writing exclusively for e4m. “Three cheers for the simplicity and purity of small ideas,” he exclaims.

e4m by Pat Burns
Updated: Apr 11, 2011 8:47 AM
Notes from Goa: Needed, some brilliant small ideas


It feels a bit strange to be writing my last entry now. Obviously, printers gotta print, but the fat lady’s still going through her vocal exercises.

Good luck to everyone tonight. That won’t make sense when you read this on Monday, but hopefully the cosmic balance has been tilted very, very slightly in your favour as I type. I know how it is to be on The List. I find it strangely personal.

So I finally managed to see most of the work. First, a quick gripe about the TV. Not the commercials, the presentation. There’s a dirty great chunk missing out of the middle where the four screens come together.

Now, you may do things differently here, but where I come from, we sometimes put quite important things in the middle of our TV ads. Logos, endlines, that sort of thing. It’s probably all very well if you know the ads, but if you’re a blow-in fresh off the boat who can’t get his TV at the flat to work, then these are important details, so I’m afraid I gave up with it pretty quickly. I’ll see them tonight, promise.

And the people who got their posters in front of the only working AC unit in the print section, so had guaranteed crowds huddled in front of their work all afternoon. Who are they sleeping with?

I don’t want to get into assessing individual pieces*. I haven’t been here long enough to make any enemies, or show myself up as completely missing the point of something.

What I wanted to find was something I could use to link it together. A theme, something which I could spot and spin out to 650 words.

And I think I’ve got one.

What I saw is a lot of small ideas.

Now, don’t get indignant. Don’t get outraged or insulted. I’m too conspicuous to hide from a whole industry.

I think small ideas are brilliant.

These days, we and our clients talk about nothing but big ideas. But have any of you ever had a big idea? Really, truly? Unless you’re God, Einstein, DJ Kool Herc or one of a handful of others, I doubt it.

In the UK (there I go again), we’ve become so obsessed with ideas that can go anywhere and do anything that we’ve lost sight of the simple, fun, clever, moving messages that can come through small ideas. And although we’re after the big game, we hardly ever catch it. Most of the time, we’re chasing rainbows.

It’s got a lot to do with the current unhealthy obsession with all things digital. I know it’s now a fundamental part of what we do now, and a thrilling space which we have to move joyously into and work with. However, just because an idea doesn’t work on Twitter doesn’t make it a bad one.

I saw some fantastic ideas. Small ideas. Sweets so sour that you have to kill yourself. Vintage jeans worn by old statues. A poster that kids and parents make out of magnetic letters.

And the fact that they aren’t all-encompassing brand visions doesn’t diminish them at all in my eyes.

Three cheers for the simplicity and purity of small ideas. And of course, lots of little things make up one big thing. That’s simple physics.

Other little things: Aneesh and Ritrup, I’d like to apologise again for the British occupation of India. 8.20 am is TOO EARLY to clean my hotel room. I sometimes see Robin Wight on the tube, and he always dresses like that. There’s something I can’t quite get on with about dancing in the afternoon. And by the time I was ready to go jet-skiing, they’d all packed up and gone home. Boo.

Thanks for having me, GoaFest. Maybe see you next year.

*Oh, alright then. If I had to pick a winner, it’d be the Beetle work. Tremendous.

Also read:
Notes from Goa: Time to show off a bit

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