Marketers Grapple With The Idea Of The Big Idea

Over at BBH Labs there having a brilliant discussion on the subject of “The Big Idea” and wheter or not it is dead, or perhaps just deserves to die.  The level of thought and intelligence, on both sides of the argument, is staggering. Just about everything worth saying on the subject is said, either in the post or in the fantastic comments, but I would like to add my two cents.

My interpretation of a Big Idea is one that facilitates the creation of a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe (DINU). Here’s what I mean by that: Does the idea create an environment where other people, both professional and consumers, want to – and have the ability to – build upon the existing concept, making it richer?

This can take many forms. Star Wars is a big idea. It started as a movie, but has become the Star Wars Universe with books, cartoons, video games and fan groups.  At this point George Lucas is responsible for a mere fraction of the Star Wars-related content that is out there.  His creation has taken on a life of its own and will more than likely outlive him.

As a brand, Barack Obama became a big idea. The video, the Shepard Fairy poster – these were created outside the official Obama campaign but came to represent not only what he stood for, but for the man himself.

A DINU creates a landscape where the idea generators (writers, marketers, artists, etc.) intentionally leave space for consumers to play an active role in the life of the idea. I think by its very nature a Big Idea today has to be one that allows for a DINU to take shape. The truth of the matter is, a good idea will be grabbed by consumers, the tools are too readily available. If you recognize this in advance, plan for it and even assist consumers, you’ll have an excellent chance of having your good idea become a Big Idea.