The risk of conformity

Advertising, Eurobest, Festivals, People

Darin Brown from Crispin Porter & Bogusky is one of the Eurobest speakers who adapted his speech to the festival’s main theme, “bravery”. He opened the second day of Eurobest with a presentation about risk taking in the advertising world, entitled “Taking Career Risks by Playing it Safe”.

The speech started with the punch-line – “taking a risk may actually be safer”, meaning that conformity in a short period of time will not affect you, but conformity plus time, in a constantly changing advertising world, will do.

Darin said that the source of the “not taking risks” attitude is “fear”. Although the center of fear is situated in the brain, in the hypothalamus, he believes fear is rather emotional.

Further in his presentation, Darin exposed what kind of risks his agency is willing to take and spoke about the “beautiful tension” method. At Crispin Porter & Bogusky they believe that each product has it’s own truth and in the same time, the context where the product is placed, has it’s own truth. So there is the “product truth” and the “culture truth”. The “beautiful tension” method consists in finding a conflict between them.

Here is one of their executions in which the product truth is that “America loves Whopper” and the culture truth is that “Americans love adding people on Facebook” (at the time). The beautiful tension is when customers have to choose what they love more. Speaking of risks, it is to be mentioned that the client required in the brief, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Whopper only through a simple promotion. This is how they didn’t conform:


Another example is for Wolkswagen Jetta. The product truth is that “Jetta is a really safe car” while the culture truth is that “Most safety car ads are about avoiding accidents” (or with accidents in a controlled environment). The beautiful tension they identified here is “Let’s take the situation in a real environment”.


Darin Brown concluded with three tips: first one is that we shouldn’t forget fear is situated in the hypothalamus and that we can hijack it just by talking about what happens if we don’t through ourselves in a risky situation, the second one is that creative people should have more direct contact with the clients which is related to the third one: “become as good as storyteller in selling the work, as you are a storyteller in the work itself”.

Material written by Lucian Talpes