What’s a brilliant example of defensive creativity?

Dave Trott

“The whole fun in our game is being the underdog”

Dave Trott is a creative director behind some of the most highly regarded and successful advertising of the last few decades. His books are indispensible for anyone wanting to stir up their own creative juices – the most recent is ‘One Plus One Equals Three: A Masterclass in Creative Thinking’.

His previous book ‘Predatory Thinking: A Masterclass in Out-thinking the Competition’ got us wondering… being defensive is less sexy than being a predator but Dave, can you think of a brilliant example of defensive creativity?”

Back in the 1980s, London Docklands was just 8 square miles of mud…

Dave Trott, A Curate's Egg

Back in the 1980s, London Docklands was just 8 square miles of mud.
No one wanted to build there because it was ugly and dirty.

Development areas in Milton Keynes, Telford, and Wales were running campaigns saying how filthy London was.
How you should build on their greenfield sites.
How happy your workforce would be at the better quality of life: cows, sheep, trees, the country, etc.
Docklands was a laughing stock.

So we decided to turn the whole issue round: are we talking about leisure or work?
We ran a campaign with the strapline:

We featured press ads using excerpts from the competition’s advertising which said “Only 2 hours from London by train”.
With our headline ‘What’s the point in moving out if you’ve got to keep coming back?’

Eventually all the other development areas complained to the Minister for the Environment, who tried to get our ads banned.
But by that time it was too late.
Big businesses wanted to build in London Docklands.

That’s why today Docklands has the tallest buildings in Europe.
All Milton Keynes, Wales, and Telford have is cows, sheep, and trees, etc.

The whole fun in our game is being the underdog.
Anyone can win if they’re bigger or richer.

But turning a negative into a positive, that’s where you need to be creative.

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