“On the spot”, “off the cuff”, “wing it”, “don’t think, just do!”
These are all phrases that an actor as heard a million times over when it comes to performing improvisational theatre. “Improv,” as it is often referred to, is the genre of theatre where most or all of the action that is being created is performed at the moment or “on the spot.” It requires creativity, execution and freedom to successfully engage.
The creativity aspect goes without saying. It is a chance for the actor to explore any and all possibilities—sort of a brainstorming session done with the body and voice—and once something works the actor keeps it and executes the goals of how to showcase the idea that was formed. However, it is the freedom that has to take precedence. Freedom of the body, freedom of the mind and freedom from pride (one must be willing to step out of his/her comfort zone). This is what makes improv acting a joy to not only perform but to watch as well.
How is this all relative to advertising? Well, both the advertising world and the theatre world have the exact same aforementioned requirements. In the competitive arena of advertising and marketing, creativity is one of the key factors that separate many marketing agencies from their counterparts. The more creative license an advertising company takes, more times than not, the end result works in favor of the company. There is often “on the spot” or “off the cuff” approaches to executing a marketing strategy or campaign through the brainstorming process. The team members throw out ideas and those that resonate with the team and work for the project sticks, and in comes the execution of the goals.
So how does freedom play a role? There is no creativity without a free-flowing thought. With advertising, as with improv, one must break free from any mental or creative confines, blocks or negative viewpoints. With improvisational acting, one of the rules that must be adhered to is negating the “No”. Anything goes but the “No”. The actor is not allowed to say or think “No” and the same goes for the advertiser. When the word or thought “No” enters into the creative space, the environment becomes tainted and freedom cannot thrive in a tainted environment.
It’s amazing how worlds so seemingly different can have such identical commonalities. Perhaps these elements are apropos to all different types of careers and talents. It’s interesting to imagine that a Fortune 500 company specializing in pharmaceutical sales could have the same type of principles as a company specializing in artistic movement; but the one thing that is evident in all things is the positive outlook. Without the foresight and freedom to move forward, everything is left by the wayside.
So, as it relates to improv and advertising, being creative and most importantly—being free and open in creativity—will allow for pristine execution. Say no to the “No!