Burberry, Screamadelica and the secret to creative cross pollination

March 13, 2017 3:10 pm

Every so often, anyone with a creative job has to recharge. There are places that will tell you how (I liked this one recently) and this post isn’t so much about that. But one way to stay inspired, energised and even innovate a bit has been to cross pollinate ideas from one area with another’s.
You know the kind of thing I mean. It’s why innovative companies sit a microbiologist next to an AI researcher, or hold remote off-sites with people from half a dozen different departments.
Even the recent success of co-working spaces has been partly attributed to the serendipity people enjoy, rubbing shoulders with types of businesses they wouldn’t normally encounter.
But two experiences of the past week taught me something valuable about this kind of thing. My big learning is that you don’t have to make a big leap for cross pollination to be effective.

Burberry
Example one came from a short talk I saw film director Asif Kopadia give at a show. If you don’t know his name, he’s the British maker of award-winning documentaries such as Senna and Amy, the latter picking up 2016’s Best Documentary Oscar. He was speaking as the director of the Tale of Thomas Burberry brand content from the company that still carries its founder’s name a century later.

It’s a great piece of film-making, whether you watch the full 3:35min version or a shorter cut. What’s important about that project was that Kopadia told us he was allowed to work as he would as a film-maker rather than a director shooting an ad for TV or cinema.
To outsiders, his role and that of an ad creative’s might seem close. But to him it was an alien experience. And that brought the magic.
The way he worked – without a traditional brief from Burberry or one of its agencies – meant he was freed to produce what he called a trailer for a film that doesn’t exist. Take a look. Beyond the big name stars and subtle use of Burberry products, it’s wonderful storytelling.

Screamadelica
My second example comes from BBC4’s Classic Albums series, which last week featured Primal Scream’s Screamadelica album from 1991. You don’t have to watch that programme to know the by now well told story about a struggling rock band making a breakthrough with a different kind of approach, crossing over into the world of dance music.
The magic for that album came about because they turned to Andy Weatherall – a well-known DJ – to produce the track Loaded in 1990 and then the subsequent album.
Weatherall wasn’t a record producer (he needed help from a more traditional recording engineer). It was like Kopadia doing a corporate film. The jump wasn’t massive but it was close enough to be possible and then their different backgrounds and approaches spark amazing results in each case.
The lesson from these two examples is creatively you have to change your perspective and work with new people to remain fresh. But that doesn’t mean going to the other side of the world (literally and metaphorically).
What’s your cross pollination plan?

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