What’s riskier than new ideas? Not using them.

What’s riskier than new ideas? Not using them.

“Ideas are scary” is the theme of GE’s freakishly touching ad. “Freakish” and “touching” are not words often paired together, but GE’s spot illustrates the conundrum of our rapidly changing world. The things that could benefit us the most are also, at times, the scariest.

GE’s spot was greeted with mixed reviews. AdWeek found the concept and the execution to be, well, scary. Personally, I liked the ad, but that’s really neither here nor there. I am less interested in the execution of the spot and more interested in the thinking behind it. The piece portrays the world at large as a cruel and inhospitable place for innovative thought. People typically think the best ideas are the ones they already have. New ideas mean new risks. New ideas are by nature foreign, typically messy and somewhat unpredictable. Simply leave well enough alone.

But here’s the rub. If you don’t take the risk, someone else will. There may have been a time when the status quo could stifle the innovative, but new market parameters have, to a large extent, changed that. Like our haggard little friend in the GE spot, big ideas eventually find their place. The only questions are when and where.

The energy industry is filled with irony, especially the utility sector. On one hand, environmental factors and technological advances are making it one of the most dynamic markets around, but on the other hand, it’s still ruled by very traditional business models and marketing strategies.

This is where the principle of scary ideas comes into play. Are you the person in the spot who is horrified by the possibility of something new, or are you the hero who nurtures it?

As a firm focused exclusively on energy and the environment, we talk to a lot of people weighing the value of new approaches and new ideas. Risk aversion is understandable. It’s tempting to go with the familiar, the typical messaging, the expected stories. But as the market becomes increasingly dynamic and the players increasingly diverse, the instinct to stick with what we know can be fatal.

So, the next time you are weighing the value of a promising new idea, consider pushing it a little further than usual. Take some smart risks and see what happens.

Remember, if you don’t take a chance on the next big idea, your competitor might.



Posted on

January 14, 2015

About the Author

Matt Brass

Matt Brass

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing all campaigns and collateral. With nearly two decades of marketing design under his belt, Matt has extensive experience in design, photography and videography, as well as blogging about the latest and greatest (or worst) ad campaigns out there. He leads our team on kayaking trips, too.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and GreenBiz.com.

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

VP Client Engagement

Laila leads our client engagement process, overseeing activities from both a strategic and a tactical level to ensure our work generates desired results – and clients’ satisfaction. She brings 25+ years of marketing leadership experience to her client relationships, with particular expertise in the homebuilding and remodeling industries as well as member-driven organizations, such as the Vinyl Siding Institute and Plastics Pipe Institute. Before joining Shelton Group, she led strategic marketing teams for Owens Corning’s insulation business.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Glen L. Vesser III

VP Finance and Administration

Glen manages Shelton Group’s finances and administration, ensuring our internal systems run smoothly so we can provide exceptional client service in a seamless and timely manner. Glen’s financial and administrative expertise has been shaped by decades of experience in a variety of industries, including public accounting, media distribution and health care.

Mike Beamer

VP Business Development

Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.