A couple of weeks ago I talked about why I think small is beautiful, a topic I cover in far more detail in our Creative Social Book. Anyway here are some of the small ideas by fellow authors put forward as great examples of how small ideas can be just as effective as a big idea:

Small is Beautiful from Creative Social on Vimeo.

From Andy S (@sandoz)

Starbucks Betacup: Chalkboard

The answer wasn’t a new cup. Recognises SB audience is smart, local and loyal. Reward them and they may bring their own cups in. Idea delivered for the cost of a small chalkboard and a free coffee, so anywhere… cheap. The customers feels ‘good’. The brand looks good and smart but also builds better community within the shops itself. More here: http://sandoz.posterous.com/starbucks-betacup

Radiohead: Pay what you want.

Brilliant, iconoclastic, apposite marketing campaign and statement. Plus the perfect way to support an $82 premium boxset to the hard-core, reward existing, re-ignite lapsed and garner new fans in one go. The saviour of the music business right there in the tiniest idea… Pay what you want. Also i like the rumour that a lot of people actually paid a pretty fair price.

Levis: Recycle Label

Positioned as the Brand that built America it’s totally right to focus on CSR and community values and use that as a true marketing platform. This simple idea connects them to a charity in your local area, shows responsibility but also positivity, and a i guess quality, the product will out last you. From here they can do plenty more in local community. Read more at PSFK.

From Chris C (@albionics)
Our Syrup people in New York came up with this nice little idea – Make Football Anywhere. It’s a portable goal. Just tape with Puma on it. It now comes in the box when you buy the boots. It’ll be errr rolled out over the coming months.

From Daniele (@yellif)
For me the king of small ideas is Uniqlo. Love what they do as their digital work seems to really compliment their above the line work (which is far more focused around pricing and getting people into store). It seems that ever since Uniqlock (covered extensively in this blog), Uniqlo’s work has been a combination of Japaneseness, the product and technology. Here are some of their most recent stuff:

‘Lucky Counter’

A clever campaign to promote the launch of it’s UK online store which was very simple yet very effective – the more tweets, the cheaper certain launch products. Fantastic way to create buzz. Read more here.

Uniqlo Lucky Switch

They have also created some simple yet visually striking and extremely playful twitter mash-ups:



From Dave (@dbedwood)

Virgin Salt and pepper shakers:

From Innocent smoothie packaging to Howies trouser lining, small attention to detail; where a brand conveys some personality where its audience would not expect it, can have a big impact. Underneath the shakers embossed in the silver is the line ‘Stolen from Virgin Upper Class’. This S&P shaker idea is a tiny, tiny detail, yet it’s the very fact that Virgin have bothered with such a tiny detail that gives it its surprise; makes it memorable and gives the brand a more personal, cheeky, intimate feeling with their customers. It’s like they are sharing a joke between one another, something hard to do with mass communication.

Guinness Dart Board

A perfect synergy of media and product you could not wish to find. Some of the best ideas are the little ones; observations that seem so simple and obvious in retrospect. Most of us miss these because we’re too busy looking for the next big idea.

German Wings:

When doing an advertising campaign quite often the media is either booked, or at least a strategy is in place. This means creative opportunities can be missed; simply because ideas are already been mined in pre-defined areas. The beauty of this idea is that it has managed to find a small place no one else has exploited yet.

Its sneakiness, and hijacking of somewhere unexpected, gives it a strength beyond its size. Finding these small spaces in consumers media landscapes can have a big impact. It feels like the brand is talking to you, it’s a closer connection. As long as they don’t screw it up by saying something banal, annoying or witless.

Levis introducing the dress down Friday to corporate culture to sell more chinos. This has the appearance of a small idea; but in fact what it instigates is a cultural change. A change that benefits the brand. It’s an idea that is playing with the levers of human behaviour and culture, it negates the need to write an ad at all.

Michelin Tyres
Michelin brothers, had the idea (1895) that a guidebook to hotels in the french countryside would encourage people to climb into a car (equipped with Michelin tyres) and hit the open road. Small idea that’s become so big, most people have no idea it actually has anything to do with Michelin tyres.

And of course, Flo, how can I forget the ad that started it all:

From Flo (@floheiss)

Ben’s T-shirt maker on CNN.com is the biggest small idea I have seen so far. The reason I love it is because it is essentially just a very small almost invisible icon next to a headline on CNN.

Most people might not see it or click on it, but if you do it draws in all the things the web is so good at. Liveness, instantness and thshirt ness (fun). It also has a more serious point about it I suppose in distributing political headlines into popular culture. [Editor’s note: If you want to cheat, you can go here]

There are also so many examples of small nice copy touches. this might jog peoples memories of some of them:

Check the little copy niceness on flushtracker, not the nice lady that conveniently has forgotten to put her top on.

From Gavin (@gavrog)

The Facebook Like button is a small idea that has become big – and made a massive impact throughout our industry and throughout the internet in general.

From Gemma (@gembutler)

Graffiti on the wall around Ramallah, Palestine. For a small donation they’ll write your worthy message on their wall and it goes to charity.

From Matt P (@observatron)

Expense a Steak

Faced with falling bookings because of the financial crisis, restaurant Maloney & Porcelli soon realised it was because their business clientele were no longer able to ‘expense’ as many lunches. The idea (of building a tool which lets you generate receipts for stationery to the value of your meal!) was small because it didn’t shout and it wasn’t plastered around the city. But all at once it was genuinely funny, clever, timely, sharable, insightful and ever so slightly nefarious. You can watch the case video here.

Blu Dot Trackable Chairs

RGE from Real Good Experiment Case Study on Vimeo.

Faced with a display advertising budget of nil, Blue Dot took resorted to leaving furniture out in the street with a tracking device stuck on the base. They followed the furniture when it was picked up – interviewing the thrifty freecyclers to create interesting online content.

The idea is social, but in a more sophisticated way than simply sponging for Facebook likes. It’s real, it’s clever, it’s techy, but it shows good understanding of human nature.

From Sam D (@sdevolder)

Bank Transfer Ad
This idea by Draft FCB is a small and cheap Checked it with our accountants and they said they would certainly have noticed this one if it arrived here

And last but not least, some other suggestions:
Coke happiness vending machine:

  • Puma Eco bag
  • Instapaper
  • Doctor pepper fb updates
  • Gmail invite only
  • I like it on – fb breast cancer campaign
  • How many people paid button
  • Burger King King dates a super model
  • Global rich list
  • Livestrong wristbands

Anyway hope this provided you some inspiration as to why small is beautiful, especially when you are tasked with coming up with the next bid idea.