“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.