Innovation: The Goldilocks medium between porn and purity

Daisy Doctor
By Daisy Doctor | 16 May 2017

Innovation can be split into two types, according to Maxus global director innovation Tom Kelshaw: porn and pure.

Speaking ahead of the 'Innovation: Gimmick or genuine driver of growth' panel at the AdNews Media + Marketing Summit, Kelshaw said innovation porn and purity are at either ends of the innovation spectrum.

Innovation porn, which can be categorised by “fancy gadgets, fetishised new and unusual things”, designed for “hyperbolic headlines”, has to be balanced by innovation purity – the genuine advancements that will make a long-term contribution.

He urged marketers to see innovation as a genuine growth driver not a distraction and encouraged brands to find a “goldilocks medium” in the middle.

“Both extremes are unhealthy. We need to blend porn and purity,” he said, adding the analogy that the trick is to think of innovation as “part of a complete meal”.

“Yes you can fill up on vegetables - these can be your marketing sciences - your Ehrenberg-Bass starch. While it fuels your brand growth, we all like our meat, salt and flavour ... and then there’s dessert,” said Kelshaw.

He adds the innovation budget, when an organisation splits its budget by the 70/20/10 rule being 70% tested and successful innovation, 20% new innovation and 10% risky innovation, is the dessert or the 'cupcake on the top' he says.

However he said that the 10% in the innovation budget is most likely to be cut first, and it leads to an “innovation binge” mentality, he believes. 

“If you’ve ever worked for an organisation that preaches 70/20/10, it doesn’t always work out,” he added.

“If you deny that cupcake there will be this innovation binge of shiny object and innovation porn, you wake up in a sticky mess of 3D printed gadget. Moderation is key,” Kelshaw says.

Kelshaw believes innovation is just new things to grow a brand, but accepts it's also “consistent failure”, that requires marketers to try, and try again, to do better.

To avoid the binge and budget cut seesaw, Kelshaw suggests instead, marketers should tackle innovation by spending less, but being more committed to it and work with partners to generate better ideas.

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