5 Ways We Keep Our Creative Universe Fresh

shot of Universal Orlando grounds

It’s pretty thrilling to work with wizards, dinosaurs and extraterrestrials. But just because we can drink our weight in Butterbeer and hum the Jurassic Park score in our sleep doesn’t mean creating great work is as easy as casting a spell. Here are five ways that Popcorn, our in-house team of creatives, strategists, project managers, UX/UI, and production pros keep the ideas—and the work—fresh.

1. 9 out of 10 doctors agree that bad briefs lead to bad advertising.* At Popcorn, we think creative briefs should be as inspiring as our attractions. To step up our game, we created a Brief Lab where strategists, brand builders, creatives and others can discuss, dissect and craft a strong, single-minded proposition. The goal here is to dig deep, really challenge the thinking, and ensure that the brief is the “our guests are going to love this!” road map it needs to be. (*We made this up.)

2. Fresh eyes = fresh ideas. It can be tough presenting anything, even something as awesome as Halloween Horror Nights, in new-and-exciting ways year after year. This is one of the reasons we created hubs. We organized different parts of the business (events, resorts, content, etc.) into different hubs and then shuffled the teams doing the work. This gave our team members new projects, new challenges and new opportunities.

3. Brainstorms fueled by Butterbeer. David Ogilvy said he never wrote anything at his desk—too many distractions. Smart guy. Over the past two years, we’ve had several offsite strategy and brainstorm sessions where we head over to one of our on-property resorts for two or three days. We invite an outside facilitator to drive the session, as well as an assortment of team members with different focus areas and perspectives. We’re sure Ogilvy would agree that churros help creativity.

4. The room where it happens. Before any piece of creative is goes to the masses, it’s goes through our internal Strategy and Creative Review session. This is a chance for executive leadership to review the work and ask questions. “What was the single-minded proposition?” “Is this on strategy?” “How do we want people to respond to this work?” and so on. We put the work out there and welcome the discussion. Do things get scrutinized? Yes. Ripped apart? Sometimes. Elevated to be as strong as possible? You bet.

5. Focus groups don't need to happen in musty conference rooms. On any given day, we can conduct a real-time focus group simply by going into our parks and observing, firsthand, how our guests respond to our work. Everything from “is the messaging clear on this ticket booth?” to “are guests enjoying interacting with this AR filter we developed?” While this data might not be scientific enough to power a DeLorean, we think it’s pretty cool to walk around our parks and see guests experiencing our work.

Thank you, Scott and Rob, for sharing your creative insights with the in-house agency community! Tune in to Scott Jackson’s recent interview on the Inside Jobs podcast to hear about his path to Universal and get even more tips for in-house agency leaders.

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