12 creative thinking tools extracted from award-winning advertising campaigns (Part 1)

I first met Yonathan Dominitz in October 2013, when he came to our country to sustain a training about creativity for the Romanian agency Lowe & Partners. GolinHarris was gracious enough to arrange a meeting with the Founder of Mindscapes, with whom I had planned to discuss the ins and outs of creative thinking, the mind boggling tools that inspire innovation and the patterns behind fresh and effective advertising campaigns. Mindscapes is a company completely dedicated to understanding the thinking patterns that had led to some of the most noteworthy commercials ever to win a creativity award. Founded back in 2006, the company has uncovered over the years a series of twelve tools that help think up successful advertising campaigns. This is what I had in mind when talking to Yonathan Dominitz.

Naturally, an one-hour long conversation was barely enough to cover how these tools were first brought to light and the way in which they can be applied to modern age advertising. But then again, Yonathan's teasing had quite an impact. Fortunately for all you voracious readers out there, I'm a persistent lass and arranged a meeting with the Founder of Mindscapes over Skype. But I propose a deal: since the whole teasing technique seems to work so fine, I'll just show you the first part of the discussion and keep the second one for later. In the following interview, Yonathan Dominitz describes and explains six out of the twelve creative thinking tools uncovered by Minscapes: Dynamic Connections, Rewrite History, Museum It, Relocation, Fight for a Cause, Sabotage Removal:

                               Varianta in romana a interviului poate fi citita aici.

Dynamic Connections

We named the tool Dynamic Connections. It's about looking at the connections between different variables of a system and trying to change and create new kinds of dynamic connections between them. A product is essentially a system and a system has its own variables. For example, one variable is the price of the product, it could be low or high. Another variable is the time at which you buy the product, morning, evening. Another one is the size of the product, it could be smaller or bigger. Usually each system has certain connections between the variables: for example, the bigger the product, the bigger the price. But there are a lot of connections which are not dynamic, which are fixed, and what we do is identify those connections and try to make them dynamic. For instance, usually there's no connection between the time at which you buy the product and the price of the product. Whether you buy it in the morning or in the evening, the price is the same. The tool will tell you that you can create this dynamic connection between the time that you buy the product and its price of the product.

Some very creative advertisers did exactly this, they created dynamic relations. For example, there was a new application for Budweiser Ice Cold in Ireland. The product is ice-cold beer, which is very refreshing, right? The weather in Ireland is usually very cold and people tend to buy or to think of ice-cold beer only when it gets really hot, right? So in order to make more people loyal and experience the ice-cold Budweiser, the agency created an application which gave consumers the ability to get a discount depending on the temperature outside during summer in Ireland. The higher the temperature went, the hotter it was, the lower the price got.

One of the most famous campaigns that used this tool, that won 7 Grand Prix at Cannes, was Pay with a Tweet. They created a dynamic relation between the price of the product and the number of tweets you posted. You paid for the product, not with money, but with the currency of tweets.

Rewrite History

Another tool is Rewrite History, which means to create a compelling story by rewriting or influencing the past, the history, or by giving the past a new meaning in the present. The idea is to refer to what happened in the past and historical facts, be it literature, art, politics or sports and  ask ourselves: "What would happen if our story or our message existed back then?, "How would it affect history or how would history look different if our product existed then?".

Two years ago, a Grand Prix at Cannes was won by a small agency in Puerto Rico, which created a campaign for a bank. The problem in Puerto Rico was the big lack of enthusiasm for work. So they realized this is a big problem because if people don’t like to work and are lazy, the economy cannot grow. They asked themselves why it is like this and one reason, not the only one, stemmed from one of the most well-known tunes in Puerto Rico. Sung by one of the most famous salsa bands in Puerto Rico, it's about laziness. The agency decided to rewrite the song so they asked this famous salsa singing band to change the words of the song and to launch a new album with the same music that everybody loves, but with new lyrics talking about waking up in the morning, having a great breakfast, going to work, then working hard and enjoying life. The same song, different words.

Another example: two years ago, the UK newspaper The Guardian wanted to launch the concept of open journalism. Open journalism basically means that we are all journalists and through the digital medium every person can contribute with a new perspective about what's going on. So the view would not solely belong to one journalist or one newspaper. In order to do so they took a very famous British children's story - Three Little Pigs and gave it a completely different ending. It wasn't about good guys and bad guys anymore, the whole picture changed.

Museum It

We call the following tool Museum It. Instead of advertising a brand or saying how good it is, the idea would be to create a museum-like public exposition which conveys the main message or the brand idea that you want to portray. So why not use the whole life of people as a canvas in creating unusual exhibits? Probably you know Intel - The Museum of Me.

Intel is actually something part of a computer that we never see; we never buy Intel, we buy something with Intel inside. The brief was to say that by using Intel technology, with Intel chips, you can express yourself better. The question that the agency was facing was: "How can we demonstrate the concept of self-expression?". And then they came up with the idea of a virtual museum which everybody can create on Facebook - Museum of Me. The agency devised a platform that allowed everybody to create o museum of themselves by using their photo album and the bulk of images that they posted on Facebook, which is a perfect demonstration of self-expression. So, Intel allows you to express yourself in a way which is as beautiful as a museum.

An insurance company in Australia had a very boring message; they wanted to say their company insures car parts that others don’t cover. So the agency wanted to transform this very rational and boring message into something really unusual and capture the attention of the public. They realized that there are actually thousands of different car parts that aren't covered by a regular insurance. The agency brought together some artists and mechanics and they asked them to create a new car made from all the parts that the other car insurances don't cover. That resulted in the most bizarre, yet completely functional car that you have ever seen. They organized a mobile exposition where they exhibited car parts, took the model to rides into the capital of Australia and so on. And the media covered it because they had never seen such a strange car and such a strange exhibit. Instead of relaying the message they created a very unique, bizarre museum out of a car and when people were exposed to that exhibit, they got the point.


Relocation means to take one or more of the system's components and relocate it/them in a new place and by this exploring new possibilities and opportunities of creating innovative ideas. A smartphone is a system and all the components of the system are located in fixed places, right? The screen is in the front, the buttons are on the side and the speakers in the back. Relocation would suggest taking one component - say the speakers - and relocating them in a different place. Imagine a smartphone would have the speakers on a chair. What if I take the keyboard and I put it on my hand? It allows you to think of some new things that you were not aware of before. It really challenges the perception we have in regards to an existing structure of any system; it's really provocative and disruptive in that sense.

For example, Red Tomato Pizza -"VIP Magnet". They took the Order button, which we can usually access via computer or mobile and relocated it on the fridge of consumers. So, in order to order a pizza from that company, you don’t need to log in, you just press the magnet on your fridge and the pizza is on its way to you. They took something complex and made it very simple; it was innovative and nobody expected it, nobody thought it was possible. They took something which is not obvious and they made it very simple and obvious. With 5.000 US dollars, this small pizza delivery company created billions of dolars worth of media exposure in the US. It was in the news, it was on every TV program, every TV spectator, talked about it. It was a huge, huge success.

Another example would be the Nike Chalk Bot. What they did was take a robot, one they usually use to paint the road signs, and transform it into a printer to which anybody in the world could tweet a message of support to a cyclist participating in Tour de France. They took the printer which we usually have at home and they relocated it at the event. They took a component which exists in one system and relocated it in a completely different system.

Fight for a Cause

Instead of focusing on the brand or on the product, instead of talking about ourselves, this tool suggests to create a cause which matters to people and to devise a mechanism through which people engage with the cause, not with the brand. Because people can very easily express sympathy, enthusiasm and emotions, in general, towards causes, at the end of the day the awareness gained by a cause reflects on the brand. So the brand enjoys the momentum created by the cause.

A good example is the GMP campaign "Why don’t you come over". Instead of focusing on the newspaper, they created a cause: inviting Brits to Romania. They engaged the Romanian consumers in supporting the cause by suggesting to them to offer their couches, their homes, to open their hearts and offer hospitality to the Brits.

The "Romanians are smart" campaign was not about ROM as a product, but about Romania - "let's change the image of Romania on the internet".


The idea is to look at the system and ask ourselves what can we sabotage or remove from that system in order to create a provocation that will, at the end of the day, make our message stand out. The system can be the product, the company, the medium (any medium: Facebook, television, outdoor, Twitter, website), the event, the place where the event takes place, the world of consumers (where our consumers are and what they do in relation to our product or our brand).

For example, for the "American ROM" campaign they sabotaged the packaging, they replaced the Romanian flag with the American one and thus created a big provocation, stirring the patriotic sentiment.

Have you heard the story of this Brazilian billionaire who said in public he would bury his new Bentley in the ground? An amazing campaign, created for an organ donation bank, through which they wanted to make Brazilians rethink their attitude towards donating their organs. This guy was about to destroy his brand new Bentley, he was sabotaging his own car and people thought it was the most stupid thing. So he was doing this radical thing, but at the last moment he said "No, I'm not going to destroy it, but you are burying things that are much more valuable than a car. You are burying organs that can save lives, you are burying your heart, your kidneys, your lungs".

Golin Romania

Golin este singura agentie de PR din Romania care a castigat, in acelasi an, locul 1 in cele mai importante competitii ale industriei: PR Agency of the Year in cadrul galei Romanian PR Award 2014, #1 PR Agency in... vezi detalii »


In Romania, Lowe este de 23 de ani una dintre cele mai mari agentii de publicitate, autoarea unor campanii memorabile, iar la nivel global, Nazis against Nazis este cea mai recenta dintre campaniile care au plasat... vezi detalii »