Bill Bernbach is dead. But his conversation continues.
November 15, 2011
Ideas come from conversations.
Sure, one person can sit alone and create ideas. But nowhere near as many ideas as two people engaged in a conversation. This was Bill Bernbach’s revolutionary model. By teaming up two people from different disciplines—writer and art director—he could get more, better ideas faster than a writer just slipping his idea under the art director’s door to get illustrated.
For decades, Bernbach’s model created advertising that was conversational. It made consumers want to form lasting relationships with brands.
And it’s how Bernbach’s agency took a tiny, ugly car from Hitler’s Germany and turned it into one of the most-loved brands ever. The messaging was honest and self-deprecating. And it was conversational.
In today’s attention-deprived world, two people can still have productive conversations and create strong ideas. But I think that process takes too long.
That's why I believe the conversation needs to be constantly sparked by outside influences. These influences quickly create objective ideas that come from outside the one-on-one dialogue.
For example, imagine a husband and wife. They have a healthy relationship with good conversations. But over time, these conversations get redundant and predictable. Then they have a dinner party, and the conversation is sparked by the guests. Suddenly, their conversation is engaging and fresh again.
At Neiman, that’s how we do it. A team of two begins the conversation. But they invite others to join in and continually spark the dialogue. Designers, developers, planners—everyone at Neiman gets to play. And we listen for radical comments and ideas we can turn into practical pieces of communication. It works because we’re curious people who are always intrigued by what’s next. We’re the type of people who escape to work.
The sparked conversations lead to great ideas faster. And in turn, these great ideas lead to great conversations about—and between—brands and people.
So we raise a glass to you, Mr. Bernbach, Creator of the Catalyzing Conversation. You may be gone, but you’ve still got us talking.