A Stomping great pair of Platform Ideas – By @tadbux
A Stomping great pair of Platform Ideas
Marc briefly spoke to us about what he calls ‘platform ideas’ the other day. These are big ideas. Powerful ideas. Fertile ideas. Ideas from which a thousand more equally fervent little micro-ideas can spring. Ideas as sublimely simple as Nike’s ‘Just Do It’, Apple’s ‘Think Different’, or Ikea’s ‘The Wonderful Everyday. These are ideas that can reposition a whole brand, change people’s fortunes, and really influence culture.
I don’t want to break into ‘AdLand’ because I think it’s a ‘cool’ industry – not because of a perception of it as some mystical ping-pong-table-laden land; full of trendy workplaces (potentially obsolete anyway in the age of Covid) where a trolley full of their respective alcohol client’s beverages are wheeled around on a Friday and you can bring your dog into work (though the latter is more of a dealbreaker for me). Not even because I necessarily define myself as an inherently creative person. I want to work in advertising because I’m passionate about communicating ideas. I’m genuinely excited by them – especially when they can change things. Though it might not come this term—or even this year—I’m striving to create a proper platform idea.
The word ‘platform’ might bring to mind a diving platform. It’s an apt metaphor. A lofty tower from which divers throw themselves; gracefully performing dives in different ways – twisting somersaults, corkscrews, or pikes for example. It’s a jumping off point, from which one can return to jump off from almost indefinitely (and sometimes you’ll make a splash and sometimes you won’t). Just think of all the Nike Ads that have stemmed from the tagline of ‘Just Do It’ – it can almost function as a rubric. I bet you could come up with a half-decent Nike ad right now based on ‘Just Do It’ alone.
Or maybe ‘platform’ could conjure up the image of a train platform. It works as a decent metaphor too. A platform is a bustling hub that unites different, otherwise disparate places (or in the metaphor: other concepts, ideas, ads etc.) somewhere you can patiently wait for a regular arrival of other ideas to come, or travel to different places and make new connections.
But my favourite mental image for a platform idea is a ‘platform shoe’. I can’t really profess to having worn platform shoes much. I’ve certainly never owned a pair of high heels and I probably don’t need something that amplifies my lankiness at any rate. But I’ve always wanted to own a really ‘out there’ shoe. Maybe a particularly zany pair of Doc Martens or George Cox’s. You know the ones: ridiculously thick black sole, well made upper. You might not like them. In fact they definitely divide opinion.
But we can all agree that they’re dependable. They’re robust. They can take whatever is thrown at them and they even improve with wear. I want to create ideas like platform shoes – that some people hate but some people really, really f-ing love; so much so that they keep coming back to them. Ideas that stand up to scrutiny – that can be put to use in myriad ways and in different contexts.
That’s the thing about platform shoes. They’ve endured the test of time. And they’ll keep on coming back. Prostitutes wore them in Venice in the 1500s and they were called Geta (下駄) in feudal Japan. Think of their cyclical revival and reinvention: from the 70s disco scene; to mods, punks; even to those monstrous Buffalo shoes that the spice girls wore in the 90s. And I can guarantee they’ll come back into vogue again one day too and work in a completely different cultural context.
I want to make an idea like that. I don’t want to create bland ideas that try to appease: flimsy plimsolls, shiny leather brogues, or box fresh trainers. Shoes that conform. Okay, fine. I’m getting carried away and overindulging in this metaphor. Maybe I won’t come up with an idea that is as timeless as platform shoes – but like putting on a pair of them – I want ideas that can literally lift people up, – or, when you look at them, – at least make you think WTF is that? But regardless whether you love them or hate them, they’ll make you sit up in your seat and demand your attention.