Patrick : All you need is a box.
Spongebob : And imagination.
It is the oldest parenting cliché in the book that kids play more with boxes than with the toys that came in them.
Boxes are more fun because they provide an outlet for imagination.
And it’s not just empty boxes. I recently watched (un-noticed by her) as my youngest daughter role-played between several imaginary characters for over an hour using clothes pegs.
Just as importantly they (boxes, pegs etc) act not only as an outlet but also as a catalyst for imagination. An empty box acts as a prompt or trigger for imaginative play, often in a situation where said imaginative play wouldn’t otherwise have taken place.
So a box is more than just a blank canvas.
A box is in effect a partially formed idea that allows (and encourages) kids, to build, develop, embellish, personalise, participate and, dare I say, co-create (ugh!) something more relevant.
It is well worth watching the Spongebob episode below, called Idiot Box, in its entirety. The idiot box in question is a television. And the film brilliantly illustrates the stark contrast between the passive way that we interact with TV versus the active imaginative engagement that is possible with the box in which the television was delivered.
The best modern ideas have much more in common with the cardboard box than they do with the idiot box.
The best modern ideas are partially formed rather than fully formed.
The best modern ideas invite play, participation and personalisation.
And, having been played with, participated with and personalised, the best modern ideas are more likely to be talked about and shared than a fully formed, dare I say boxed off, piece of advertising that leaves no room for adaptation, interpretation or imagination.
We’ve always been in the imagination business.
Great ads and the great creative minds that come up with them have always been, and continue to be, testimony to the power applied imagination.
But its increasingly important that our ideas capture, and make room for, the imagination of the people for whom they’re intended