Do You Own Your Ideas?

Let’s take the example of beauty. I think it’s fair to say that there is an idea for what is attractive. I also think it’s fair to say that this idea changes with time. I also think it’s fair to say that people’s perception of what’s beautiful will change as well.

By changing their perception of what beauty is when the idea changes, does that mean people are passively participating in this exchange? Do people actually know why they believe in something?

I have a friend who is very visual and appreciates beautiful/pretty things- especially fashion. She keeps bugging me about updating my wardrobe to something cooler. But after I update it, I get the feeling that in two years, she’s going to bug me about updating my wardrobe again. If her first assesment for what’s hip and cool has no lasting value and has changed in two years, does she know what she’s talking about?

I was talking about this with a co-worker and he seems fairly certain that it’s not as passive and more of a take and appropriate type relationship where people take that idea and add their own twist. So in our beauty example, it would explain derivatives like preference for brunettes or large breasts or whatever. This happens not just because we’re free thinking human beings, but also because we have this need to express ourselves and be individuals. And because of that, we have the propensity to constantly evolve, hence my friend redefining my look to re-attain hipness after two years.

But I don’t think so. I think no matter how many of your own twists you add onto the idea to make it your own, you don’t create anything new and you’re no different than anyone else because the foundation of your new great idea does not belong to you. It’s like my WordPress blog. No matter how many widgets I install, or how I alter my template, it’s still a Wordpress blog. Of course, what I’m arguing for is nothing revolutionary or new. It’s the same stuff the crazy homeless man is yelling on the corner of Pike and 2nd.

But it really makes me think about how advertisers use research to discover what the consumer will want or respond to. I mean, in theory, we can just tell them what they want and they’ll convince themselves that it was their own great idea. This seems to go with Russell Davies’ post about how sometimes the best ads come from letting the creative team do whatever they want without us planners (or communication strategists) getting in the way. Just make something that’s so cool, that it’s awesomeness will not be denied and don’t worry about what other people want or need as they probably don’t know themselves.


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