Creative Series: What I learnt at school

By Michael Knox, Executive Creative Director, Grey Group Australia

The summer school holidays are long in Australia. Eight weeks split neatly into two halves with the first four spent preparing for Christmas and the last four recovering from it.

I recalled the dread of going back to school after such a long break – the early mornings, the quickly-ironed school shirt sting on sunburned skin, having to wear shoes again and the pong of the teacher’s perfume – cheap perfume, migraine-inducing cheap. Nuns taught me and they wore the very cheap stuff.

Anyway, as with the start of every school year, I recently attended a one-on-one session with my daughter’s new teacher. The year ahead looks busy. There’ll be camps, excursions, incursions, walkathons, readathons, spellathons, and a few sports carnivals. Then we get down to the nitty-gritty. The long division, the English literature, all the cold hard school facts that will see our little angels grow to be smart young men and women. Good citizens of planet earth. This year I was shocked to learn that while all these subjects are still important, the school would like to focus on two areas in particular – bravery and happiness.

Bravery and happiness! Are you serious? Bravery and happiness! Will bravery and happiness get our kids into the top universities? Will bravery land them the top job? Will happiness bring them the big house, the car and the holidays?

The answer, it seems, is yes. Quite possibly these two things could turn out to be more important than all the facts, figures, rules and theories.

‘Bravery’ makes you put your hand up in class. Bravery pushes you to be included in all activities. Bravery begs you to make new friends.

Then there’s happiness. Happiness makes you show up every day. Happiness makes you interested in other people and happiness makes you ‘an opportunity magnetic’. Happiness makes learning fun.

Teacher went on to explain that bravery and happiness will take our kids further because, as she concluded, no one really sweats the facts and figures anymore. The facts and figures just aren’t sticky enough on their own. They will come but they need encouragement.

I have been banging on about something similar since I was fortunate enough to sit through a Coca-Cola presentation. Coke believes consumers have lost all interest in brands that spend time talking about the facts and figures.

The heritage, the ingredients, the list of achievements, the science, the blah blah blahs. What brands have done is of no interest to today’s shopper. Consumers are more interested in what you’re doing now. Right now.

Let’s talk about the boss of good brand behavior, NIKE and its NIKE Fuel Band. Everyone knows what a breakthrough this was and while others battle for the wearable technology high ground and as Google tries to convince us that Glass doesn’t look like something Thunderbirds wear, the NIKE Fuel Band continues to show us that it’s cool to move more. It shows us one of the best things we can do for our customers is motivating them. Nike inspires. Nike wants to motivate me to get up, dress up and show up. Help me achieve my goals. And continue to remind me that I can’t improve what I can’t measure. This is a sexy science to get you moving. And movement is Nike’s new Carl Lewis.

They don’t want to bore me with talk of VaporWick® technology, Ultra Fiber Light cushioning or Flyknit upper supports. They want me to be brave. To push myself harder. To find happiness in the run, the walk, the workout, the dance, the whatever. Nike doesn’t talk about themselves. Nike wants to talk about you and what you’re doing. Nike wants to give me a break from the facts and figures and make time to discover a stronger, better, happier, sweatier, faster me.

Speaking of time, take another look at Mimi Foundation’s, “If Only For a Second”. You want to talk about happiness? That there’s pure unbridled joy and carefree excitement which is more contagious than any practical conversation about programs of well-being. These people are fighting for their lives. Talk about bravery.

This is the bravest of all; poking fun and laughing at serious illness. It is Mimi Foundation’s way of supporting its patients by giving them a break from the battle. If there are tears in this tearjerker then they are simply tears of joy and hope.

Our here and now should be as hopeful. We should not look back and talk about history and heritage or bang on about ingredients and achievements. No one really cares what we have to say.

Our conversations should be about what we’re doing for the people now and just how happy we are making them.

Anything else certainly would be brave.


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