7 Bizarre Ways To Unleash Your Creativity

If You Want Crazy Ideas, Do Some Crazy Things.

Man Playing With Toys
Play!. Getty Images

If you have ever attended a Super Bowl party (and let’s face it, even people who don’t like football watch the Super Bowl) then you will have seen the weird and wonderful ads that dominate the breaks. They cost millions of dollars, they take us to strange and unusual places, and one of the comments made is often, “I wonder how on Earth they came up with that?”

Recent bizarreness, whether you loved or hated it, has included Puppy Monkey Baby, dogs running to men and women dressed as condiments, and a baby jumping out of its mother’s body to get some Doritos.

Are these whacky ideas conjured out of thin air? 99% of the time, the answer is no. They are a mixture of research, a great brief, smart minds, and on occasion, some very unusual brainstorming methods.

So if you’re tasked to come up with an “off the wall” idea – something that makes Puppy Monkey Baby look like an ad for home insurance – then take a look at the following 7 ways to unleash your inner creative.

1. Do a Huge Brain Dump

Write down everything that comes into your head. Everything. Not just the good ideas. Not just the “maybe this will work” ideas. Put everything on paper as it enters your mind. It’s a stream of consciousness that you want to capture, and for a few minutes it will feel very bizarre. You will go off on wild, crazy tangents. You may write down a shopping list, or the weird dream you had last night about bananas in space. But after a while, if you have immersed yourself in your assignment, you’ll start seeing connections.

Little ideas that mean nothing on their own, but when joined together, they become a spark that can turn into a successful campaign.

2. Play

Seriously, play like you were a kid again. Bring in a bunch of your old toys, like that He Man Castle Grayskull or that collection of Trolls and stuffed toys. Legos are great, as are any sets that require some imagination and creativity.

Play Doh is about $1 for a tub. Invest in a dozen of those, and make something. Anything. Stop thinking about the assignment or campaign, and play like you mean it. Your subconscious mind is working to connect unusual ideas while you take some time off from thinking. Before you know it, you are struck by a flash of genius. Drop everything, and get writing.

3. Change The Scenery

If you sit in an office with your feet on a desk, go outside and walk around. Jog. Play pool, or racquetball. Go and watch a movie. Visit an arcade and play video games. Sit in the back seat of your car or truck. Get a massage. Get a facial, or a pedicure. Do everything except the norm. It’s amazing how a change of scenery, and exposure to different environments, can impact your ideation.

4. Take Some Risks

How big or small those risks are, that’s up to you. Maybe you like the idea of bungee jumping, or riding the world’s fastest rollercoaster. Perhaps you want to go out and spray paint a building, which is something Jeff Goodby has suggested (but if you choose to break the law, be prepared to suffer the consequences). Strip naked in your office (though again, your HR department may not like that, so do your homework).

Find a way to get an adrenaline rush. Something that gets your blood pumping, your heart racing, and your mind energized. When you have finished, you will have a new perspective on your project. Now, start the creative process again, and see how you do.

5. Have a Drink

Science confirmed in 2014 that the ideal blood alcohol level for creativity is 0.075%. It has been called the “creative peak,” and it’s something many creative have known for decades. Having trouble? Pop to the local bar or pub for a few pints, and grease the wheels. Crispin Porter + Bogusky took this to the next level. They created an alcoholic drink called The Problem Solver, with a bottle that shows you exactly how much to drink to hit that peak. That, in itself, is one crazy but cool idea.

6. Look Beyond the Competition

It’s easy enough to get some research on the ads and campaigns the competitors are running, and it can be helpful.

But, it can also keep you thinking in a small box. So, if you’re working with a client like Ford, don’t look at the ads Nissan and Mazda are doing. Instead, look to very different markets. What is Heinz doing right now? What was that crazy ad for bleach that someone launched that went viral? What is going on with that strange campaign for potting soil? Absorb yourself in foreign landscapes for a while, then come back to the drawing board. Your ideas will be very different.

7. Experiment With Your Senses

Heighten your sense of smell, or hearing. Or, do the opposite. Wear earplugs or a blindfold. Put on thick gloves. Try doing tasks with one hand. Mess with the way you interact with the world. In this way, you are shifting your paradigm, and may just hit upon an idea that makes other people change the way they think about the brand you’re promoting.

And remember…great ideas can hit you at any time, anywhere. Always have a way to capture them, from a smartphone to an old-fashioned notepad.