Monthly Archives: October 2011

Brutal Simplicity of Thought

It is not very often that science, philosophy and creativity converge, but the Saatchi principle of Brutal Simplicity is one such example of the combination of the three.

Maurice Saatchi’s recently released book entitled Brutal Simplicity of Thought (How It Changed The World) details inventions and elements of life so simple, we rarely give them a second thought. From Velcro to teabags and God to paper clips, it defines the thought process behind some of the simplest creations and ideals in life that we take for granted. The launch of the book coincided with the London Design Week, which featured a Brutal Simplicity of Thought exhibition. Anything but simple to find in the vast V&A Museum, a short walk through the gift shop and a trek through ‘Asia’ towards the Sackler Centre finds the simple and minimalistic real-life artifacts and examples which are represented in the book.

Simplicity has long been regarded as the best method of doing anything. Occam’s razor is the scientific principle that suggests ‘one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything’. Simplicity is key.  If you can explain something in three words, why do it in five?

The human race inherently avoids complications or obstacles, so simplicity would be the most effective way to reach people, to make them remember and understand a thought or concept.  In advertising, the audience may only get a fleeting glance of a commercial. They may watch the whole advert, or only hear the end of a line, but either way, will they remember it? The rule of simplicity suggests they will if it is concise and uncomplicated.

So has this concept of simplicity in advertising worked? In a simple word: yes. A look at the AdAge Top 100 adverts of the twentieth century categorically confirms this. Named the ‘best advertising campaign of the twentieth century’, DDB’s 1959 ‘Think Small’ campaign for Volkswagen proved that with”simplicity in mind, [and by] contradicting the traditional association of automobiles with luxury” they could not only sell cars through simplicity, they could change the advertising industry forever.

Wieden and Kennedy’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign for Nike (considered the fourth best advertising campaign of the twentieth century) simply states an action – and a thought. Still used since its creation in 1988, simplicity was at the core of its conception. Furthermore, DDB’s ‘It’s so simple’ campaign, another from the Top 100 list, even uses simplicity as the selling point for the Polaroid product.

Simplicity is a mind-set that is adopted by advertisers and those who wish to avoid waffle, babble and unnecessary complications. Scientifically speaking, this also relates to evolution and the psychology of human beings, but M&C Saatchi use simplicity in every aspect of their work, from creativity, to the operating systems they have in place. Philosophy dictates this as parsimony, whereby the less involved are held in higher regard than a more involved concept. Therefore simplicity breeds success. ‘Simples’.

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