We’re in the business of ‘big’ ideas. The scripts we write, audio we record and visuals we shoot, bring thoughts and concepts to life by creating new realities for people to exist in. Our ideas influence people to make decisions that impact their lifestyles and how they show up in the world.  

The roads we drive on, buildings we work in, homes we live in, food we eat, music we listen to and art we admire – all stem from an idea that was once in someone’s mind. Life in its entirety is one big idea.  

The advertising industry is one of life’s biggest mirrors and is populated with campaigns that seem to borrow ideas from each other in different ways, which leads to awkward conversations about originality and authenticity. But when you funnel it down, the interplay of internal and external influences contributes to the fascinating and diverse landscape of creative ideas. 

By virtue of being human and navigating life, all our experiences are intertwined and overlap in such a way that we collaborate, sometimes even without realising it.  

But who does the ‘big idea’ really belong to? Of course, we all want to claim an idea as ours, to stand in the light as the mastermind behind brilliance. Truthfully though, ideas come from anywhere, but the memorability of an idea comes down to one thing – execution. 

A brilliant idea executed poorly could be the difference between bronze and grand prix in ad land currency. A well-crafted and executed idea captivates its audience by seamlessly integrating creativity, clarity, and relevance, and in South Ah relevance is always key.  

Think of SA’s most iconic ads, like the Mini Cooper billboard with the clever wordplay ‘Le mini iyeza nakuwe’ alluding to both the car and the eventuality of achieving a long-standing goal. Or the Kilpfrift ‘met eish ja’ TVC where a farmer rescues a foreign couple and mistakenly mishears the word eish as ice, leading to a humorous phrase that was repeated across generations. Great idea, brilliant execution with a touch of Mzansi relevance.  

And before we use a small budget as an excuse for a poorly executed idea, let’s first acknowledge that a small marketing budget can still lead to a brilliant and effective campaign.  

While larger budgets may offer more resources and opportunities, creativity, strategic thinking, and targeted execution can make a significant impact even with limited financial resources. An obvious example? Burger King’s controversial Whopper Sacrifice where consumers were encouraged to delete ten friends from Facebook to get a free Whopper. Small budget – big impact.  

In an industry where great ideas are crucial for building credibility, attracting clients, and building exposure, we may have to admit that the ‘big idea’ belongs to all of us, but overall recognition belongs to who executes it best.

Written by Luyanda Mpangele, Creative Director at Hoorah’s Revolve Studio in Nestlé