The Communication Arts 2010 Advertising Annual has hit the shelves. If you haven't picked up your copy, go get one today. (Seriously, why would you be reading this blog if you're not already investing in CA?)
When you get your copy, try this:
1. Grab a pad of sticky notes.
2. Tab all the work in the annual that you think is amazing. Not just cool, or funny. But the work that is so good it gives you an inferiority complex.
3. Take a break. Go see a movie. Get some work done. Play Doodle Jumper for a couple hours. Whatever.
4. Come back to the annual and going through only the work you flagged, reflag the pieces you think are smart. Not just clever. But the work that sells. The work that either makes you want to buy what's being advertised, or recommend it to someone.
5. Spend your time with those ads. Figure out who the audience is. What the planners probably said was "the single most persuasive idea." Try and determine what the idea was before the execution was created.
6. Try using some of those approaches in your next assignment. Rip them off. Steal them. Make them yours. I'm not talking about the executions. That's just plagiarism. But when you figure out what the basic starter idea was, you'll see those themes kicked up over and over in advertising from different agencies for different clients. It's basic psychology stuff. And it will make you a much better creative.
(All credit to this approach goes to my old copywriting professor Coz Cotzias at the VCU Brandcenter.)