Seek innovation, not perfection

Later this week, I will not be sitting here: 

Instead, I will at the Cannes Advertising Festival observing, learning, and bringing lessons back from the most innovative work in the world to inspire my marketing department.

This will be my first time attending Cannes, so naturally I’m very excited about it. 

Beyond the rosé and the beaches (I hear that’s what they do in France, but I don’t drink) what I’m most excited about are Frito-Lay’s submissions to this year’s festival -- especially because they are all ideas borne out of a personal philosophy of mine:

“Imperfect action trumps thoughtful inaction.”

It’s a maxim that isn’t often followed in the marketing industry, but should be. Don’t wait around to make something perfect when you’ve got something great that you can run with today. 

Think about it. You usually know whether an idea is going to be great or not the minute you hear about it. So why spend countless hours iterating, perfecting, tweaking and over-thinking when you can perfect it as you go? The marketing landscape is littered with great ideas that never saw the light of day because perfection was the team’s goal, rather than success. 

You can’t have success if you don’t put something out there. 

I’ve talked about the 70/20/10 principle on this blog before. Originally covered in the Harvard Business Review, the principle refers to a balanced approach to innovation where 70 percent of a company’s efforts should be focused on core activities, 20 percent to adjacent ones (validated risk), and 10 percent towards transformational ideas. 

At Frito-Lay, we have applied this principle to marketing, and we have empowered our agencies and the marketing department to bring more 10 percent ideas. These are ideas that aren’t fully formed nor perfected, but they are different, game-changing, and great the moment you encounter them. 

I charged myself and our leadership team to approve more of those ideas and charged my teams with getting them quickly out into the world once approved. Modern marketing departments need to be full of idea makers, not idea iterators. 

This is how you are going to win in the digital world. Everyone is a creator. There are no boundaries. 

We are fortunate to have agency partners like Goodby Silverstein & Partners, OMD, TMA and Ketchum who also fully embrace this new world – they did it with Crash the Super Bowl early on – and they continue to do it as we explore new marketing territory. 

The most validating aspect of all this is the fact that all of our submissions to Cannes were 10 percent ideas. 

Enjoy a few of them below, and look out for more missives as I post from Cannes in the coming days.

Tostitos Chip Kelly 

Every Chip Gets a Dip Tostitos Campaign. Watch the ad here.

Doritos Boldest Radio

Cheeteau, the wonderfully cheesy fragrance that Chester Cheetah graced the world with on April Fool’s Day. See the ad below; see the Cannes Lions video entry summary here.