If you saw England’s semi-final against Sweden, in the Women’s Euros 2022, you remember the third goal.
Alessia Russo was running onto the goal, Fran Kirby crossed the ball right into her path and from 8 yards out Russo hit it.
It was a certain goal.
But it wasn’t, it went straight to the Swedish goalkeeper who knocked it out.
Russo turned and chased it, two defenders either side of her shutting her down.
But then she did something no-one saw coming.
As they thundered in on her she back-heeled the ball, it went between the defenders and between the goalkeeper’s legs, into the net.
As Russo said afterwards, “I should have scored the first time and I was really annoyed with myself that I didn’t, but then the ball came back out to me. I couldn’t turn because I’d have turned into the Swedish player, so I thought what’s the shortest route to the goal and back-heeled it. I didn’t even know I’d scored until I heard the stadium erupt.”
What I love is that the momentum of Russo and the Swedish players was going in one direction, so she did the opposite.
Russo and the defenders couldn’t stop because momentum carried them forward.
She did the opposite of what the rules of common-sense, and the law of gravity said.
I saw Thierry Henri do that once in an Arsenal game.
Everyone knew that Henry was the fastest thing on the field, so the typical move was to kick the ball forward, into his path, and let him run with it.
When Henry was moving at top speed it was everything the defenders could do to try and keep up with him.
The ball came over everyone’s head straight into Henri’s path, the defender committed to trying to catch Henri as he ran.
But then Henri did something no one expected.
He stopped the ball dead but carried on running at top speed.
The defender was fixated on catching Henri and his momentum wouldn’t let him stop.
The slower but skilful Robert Pires got to the ball, without a defender anywhere near him he was able to take the ball and score.
Henri had taken the defender with him because that was where he was concentrating.
Even if the defender saw the ball had stopped, he still couldn’t stop his momentum.
Henri and Russo both did the exact opposite of what everyone expected.
That’s REAL creativity: doing the opposite of what everyone else expects.
People expect creativity to come from the creative dept, but in my experience some of the best examples come from media, planning, or account-handling.
When we got the Toshiba account, they had just 2% awareness against Sony’s 30%.
They traditionally sold the virtue of their picture technology just like everyone else.
Our planning found out that wasn’t the real problem, the real problem was the name.
To British ears, most Japanese and Korean brands sounded the same; people trusted Sony because, being easy to pronounce it was easy to remember.
Especially against names like: Toshiba, Hitachi, Samsung, Aiwa, Akai, Fujitsu, Sansui.
So the brief wasn’t about picture quality, as conventional wisdom said it was, it was to get the name remembered.
So we used a mnemonic to anglicise it: HELLO TOSH, GOTTA TOSHIBA.
Within 6 weeks, the Toshiba brand had 30% awareness the same as Sony.
Most of our work did the opposite of what everyone expected: Holsten Pils, Ariston, London Docklands, Mazda, LWT, Cadbury’s Crème Eggs, Lurpak, Cadbury’s Flake, Red Rock Cider.
We were a creative agency because planning, media, and account-handling always tried to give us a brief that was the opposite of what everyone else was would be doing.