Why we Unthink Ordinary

Grant Whitehouse
Why we Unthink Ordinary

Agencies create taglines. Agencies have taglines. Like the plumber with the leaking tap at home, some agencies do a far better job for their clients than they do for themselves. “Unthink Ordinary” is our tagline. So how does that line stack up?


I’m a huge believer in the simple promise. My favourite example is a headline referenced in David Ogilvy’s book Ogilvy on Advertising, where he praises the work of Reward Soap from Africa who had a billboard with the line “Smell nice all day”. Beautifully simple, it tells you what the product does and taps into the pain point. Four words that sum up exactly what the product benefit is to you.


Now if we bring the Reward Soap example to our desire to have a new tagline, then perhaps our line might be ‘Effective Advertising’ or ‘Get Noticed’ or ‘Sell More Stuff’ - and trust me we went through all of those possibilities but they did not align with our values or our DNA. These are not normal times, and as an agency we have spent the last two years evolving to meet the needs of a dramatically changing market and mindset realised through our audience analysis and data insights.


Everywhere we look ordinary has gone. “What is commonplace or standard” as the definition states, is laughable after two years of lockdowns, closed borders, hand sanitising and mask wearing. Yes, business continues, and every company has changed to meet the changing needs of their markets but not every business is succeeding. If we can agree ordinary is now extraordinary, we have to rethink just about every aspect of our lives and do that without thinking about what was. This is where the unthinking comes in.


Anyone who has worked in advertising, creating communication, content and experiences, knows how difficult it can be to step out of common thinking to find the new ideas. When an agency tells you they have vast experience in your industry, be warned. That also means they may be bringing ingrained thinking to the table. They may know exactly how the widget works and benefits the user, but can they step back to ensure your widget will be positioned favourably compared to your competitors? Creatives and clients talk about ‘stepping outside of the box’, bringing ‘new thinking’ to their briefs, but do they really? It is bloody hard to do.


So how do you Unthink Ordinary? First you need to look at the changes the media landscape has undergone. Media consumption, channels, engagement, communities, connections, they have all changed. In Ogilvy’s era a direct mail piece, that took weeks to write, design, print and distribute, could very effectively move a warehouse full of product. Now a 16-year-old on TikTok can do the same in 15 seconds using their $100 smartphone. Unthink Ordinary.


In experience marketing we also see this change. I have spent months writing scripts for a CEO to present to 1,000 customers and prospects, wrapped up in countless dollars worth of video, stage sets and high-class food and beverage. And I have then watched them fall flat. Yet now I see executives presenting from their kitchen, off the cuff, using talking points we have written, and delighting their online audience with compelling storytelling and laser focused messaging that drives action. Unthink Ordinary.


So, who is unthinking ordinary? When Mercedes-Benz threw out the dealer system, moving to an agency model with fixed, consistent prices, they were unthinking ordinary. When New Balance engaged Tash Sultana, the gender fluid multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, producer and engineer, to become their APAC ambassador, they were unthinking ordinary. When our client Interface, who design and manufacture commercial floor coverings, turned their Aboriginal Reconciliation Action Plan, into a new product range inspired by students, educators, communities and elders from urban, regional and outback Australia and their connection to Country, they were unthinking ordinary. When bricks and mortar retailers used Salesforce to enable 5 years of digital transformation in months, and become hugely successful online retailers, they were unthinking ordinary.


Unthink Ordinary means throwing out the rule book because the rules are changing daily. It means being nimble, adaptive and it means listening. You need your finger on every pulse, to understand the subtle shifts under the major changes that show where new opportunities lie. It means putting it all up on the board and then taking down everything that was yesterday to reveal what is tomorrow. And for advertising, although great messaging like David Ogilvy spoke of is still an absolute, it means finding the new channels that allow that message to become a conversion conversation and not just a headline.


For the creative creatures at Yakkazoo, our tagline Unthink Ordinary is a mantra that we believe lets the type of change-agent clients we seek know that they have found a partner to help them do just that.


Let’s Unthink Ordinary Together
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