The one-sentence summary

If you want to be creative, you have to be curious and contrary.


  • This is a series of blogs and anecdotes strung together to provide sage wisdom on all matters creative.
  • Arguably the mainstay of the book is Dave’s legendary Binary Brief, which requires a straight answer to three questions:

1. WHO should buy it? Trialists or current users. You can’t have both. If it’s current users, you have to explain why they should buy more.

2. WHY should they buy it? Product or Brand. Rational or Emotional. Enjoyable things like beer are emotional. Functional areas such as insurance are rational.

3. WHAT should they buy it instead of? Brand Share or Market Growth. If you are market leader, all product use is good because you benefit. If you’re not, it has to be a competitive claim.

  • Stick to a clear answer to all of these and you are much closer to an effective communication brief.


  • The rules are a springboard, not a straitjacket. If you don’t like them, change them. Don’t let anyone else write your agenda.
  • All you’ve got to beat is yourself – we stop us, not anyone else.
  • You don’t have to win – you just have to make the other lot lose.
  • Being interesting is much more interesting than being right.
  • Scepticism is fine – cynicism is not. Creativity starts with curiosity.
  • If you’re creative, then you have to create. If you don’t do it, it won’t happen.
  • Form can be emotional function – a pleasing form can fulfil a purpose.
  • No one knows what’s in your head – you choose your own reality.
  • You need to know where your parachute is.
  • Nothing is wrong – just inappropriate.
  • People don’t think like we think they should think – punters haven’t read the brief.
  • Simplicity is genius. Objectivity is good. Subjectivity is bad.
  • When you train people, you train yourself.
  • Where does an idea come from? It’s not who says it, it’s who spots it.
  • Bad artists copy, great artists steal.
  • You can make a creative pitch without creative work.
  • Reasonable people don’t do much – be unreasonable.


  • You can apply the morals broadly, but in the end all the stories come back to advertising.