So, I was thumbing through the most recent issue of FORTUNE magazine and clipping out some advertisements from corporate sponsors that touched on the innovation theme. I came up with three different ads -- tell me which one you like best. (At the end of the blog post, I'll tell you my choice)
INNOVATION AD #1.
Tagline: "Innovative Like You."
Message: Cool, artistic, innovative people use Toshiba. Look at this guy - he's literally on top of the world. (click on thumbnail for bigger image) He's wearing khakis and a blazer, so he's probably a creative type with a huge bank account. Plus, he's sitting in a swimming pool in some penthouse suite overlooking the city, making him appear to be a master of the universe. Look at how far innovation has brought him in life!
Key words in ad: "Entrepreneurial. Visionary. Versatile. Intelligent. The New Portege R400 Tablet PC."
Tagline: "Diversify the ingredients and you'll get more interesting results."
Message: Diversity is the key to innovation. Cargill has many diverse businesses. Cargill constantly looks for ways to capture diversity. Diversity, in short, makes the pancake taste better.
Key Words in ad: "Seeking new ideas from diverse sources is good for food and good for companies. Each day, Cargill is involved in food, nutrition, agriculture and supply chain management in over 60 countries around the world. Our work in diverse places has made us understand that good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere."
INNOVATION AD #3.
Tagline: "And just like that, the laws of chemistry change."
Message: Dow Chemical is about more than chemicals - the company is about innovative solutions and solving human problems. From a few basic building blocks and principles, Dow Chemical is ready to wow and amaze you with solutions that are now environmentally friendly. Nothing flashy here - the ad is sparse, clean and simple.
Key words in ad: "Suddenly, chemistry is put to work solving human problems... And the energy released from reactions fuels a boundless spirit that will make the planet a safer, cleaner, more comfortable place for generations to come."
From a purely visual perspective, of course, the Toshiba ad rocks. But maybe that's a symptom of what's wrong with innovation these days? Innovation is being "sold" as something that is hip, imaginative, creative and, well, cool. Personally, I like ad #2 (Cargill). Why? Instead of opting for a typical "light bulb" image to symbolize creativity, the company uses pancakes, which fits in with the company's image as being a big, burly Midwestern kind of company that is reassuringly friendly. The company puts a premium on diversity, and tries to tell that story through a simple picture. At the end of the day, innovation is practical, but can result in adding some tasty maple syrup and blueberries to the everyday grind. Expectations about innovation are kept in check, and anyone can be an innovator on a daily basis, not just a cool dude with a Toshiba Tablet PC.