Top Secret Briefs and How Red Tape Increases Creativity

By Adam Millbank, JonesMillbank on

Everyone can be great at problem solving but I’d argue that creatives are perhaps more equipped than anyone else to solve problems, especially those that have never been encountered before.

There’s always a compromise to be made on a project, a political issue to work around, or a rights issue that just stops everything all together. That’s before we come to budget constraints!

But what do these challenges actually push us to do and how do good creatives react and rise to the challenge?

The Royal Mint gave JonesMillbank the perfect example. A new series of coins was to be launched called ‘Music Legends’.

The first release is a coin for the band Queen. The issue? We can’t use any music……

So once we managed to calm down the creatives and get them back from the cliff edge, interesting thoughts began to spark around what music means and who it’s for.

We first looked at animation as a route that would work if we couldn’t use the music tracks from the artist. In doing so we realised how visual these legends are, how recognisable certain poses, dances, or patterns were. The silhouette of Freddie Mercury alone is instantly recognisable to so many people.

Conversations between who music was for and this visual importance came together and we turned to a group who are rarely portrayed or recognised in marketing – those with hearing impairment. How do those who can’t hear, enjoy music? 

We collaborated with the British Deaf Association who agreed with our observation that deaf and hard of hearing people still enjoy music and, still are inspired by those artists in more ways than music alone. They supported a positive move to involve a deaf actor rather than an able hearing actor who could sign.

For us, all of our productions should be as authentic as possible. So this fitted our ethos well.

We worked with Alex Nowak, a fantastic actor who understood the intention of the piece right away. He himself was excited by the concept and was very patient with our crew even teaching them some sign language to help production move smoothly. Here’s Alex on creating the piece.

The ad runs completely in silence, a brave move maybe, but we hope a move that starts conversations and shows that music isn’t just about the sound. The legends that inspire this product series have themselves inspired so many, including those who can’t hear.

The piece also came with other challenges. It was set in the 70s where our character purchases a record, so there was quite a bit to get organised in just a couple of weeks, including historic set dressing, locations, props, costume, vehicles, road closures. But the team pulled it off!

Please have a watch of the recorded session from the CMA which goes into what tools you can use to help develop more, better ideas that get around the ‘creative handcuffs’ including how to brainstorm properly, and how to pull an idea apart to explore how it can be restructured to better purpose.


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