Creating great video content: mastering creativity (Guest Post) » Charity Digital News

Creating great video content: mastering creativity (Guest Post)

In this guest post, Adam Woods, senior writer/director,, looks at how charities can come up with brilliant ideas for video campaigns which fulfil the clear and motivating core message made apparent in their briefs.

Arthur Koestler had one of the most pertinent descriptions of idea-mongering I’ve heard: “Creativity is the defeat of habit by originality.”

Which makes it sound really easy. Unfortunately, from my experience, the reality is very different. Breaking habits is hard work. Coming up with truly original work – the kind of work that stops people and makes them think – is what we’re all after. And that’s not (always) down to budget.

Given the brief stage was all about explaining your message really openly and clearly, you should keep going back to it for inspiration. Think about what will engage your audience directly and emotionally, and go for the honest approach – it works every time!

Here’s an example of an ad for a disabled charity that I think is disarming in its sincerity:


If you’re drumming up ideas for your next video, I think it’s helpful to have some different approaches in generating creative ideas. They don’t all come in the shower!

The man behind the phenomenal creative success of Disney had three distinct approaches to creative thinking that helped inform the work of his studio:

  • The Dreamer – this is the starting point for generating ideas from your brief. Don’t think within confines; think big, think laterally, and think “What if?”. Think what excites you and inspires you about the project – if you could do anything you like, what would you create?
  • The Realist – this is the pragmatic stage. It’s about rooting your project in the real world. What resources do you need to make this happen – people, money, materials and technology? What obstacles will you face? How will you get round them?
  • The Critic – this is the feedback stage. It’s where you put your work to rigorous scrutiny, and step back from your work and ask yourself:

How does this look? What about the big picture? What about the fine detail? How do I feel when I examine it? How would it look to a customer, a user, a member of the audience or the client? Is this the best I/we can do? What would make it better?

See if you can keep these distinct processes separate in your creative idea generating stage. All too often we submit fledgling creative ideas to rigorous realism before they’ve had time to flourish.

It also might be an opportunity to engage different people within your organisation to take on these roles – an excellent chance to involve other people in the creative process. Just make sure they’ve read and understood the brief.

The turn-around

I find that using opposites, or lateral thinking, can be really helpful in generating new and impactful ideas. Take a problem you’re trying to crack or a message you want to get across and find an opposite point of view.

Here’s a short video that uses this perspective shift to good effect – turning the story around from looking at a problem ‘out there’ to giving the viewer a visceral first hand experience of those the charity is trying to help:


  • Defeating habit is all about coming up with original and unusual ideas.
  • Often it’s these ideas that will excite the most heated reaction. That’s a good thing.
  • Unusual is good. Crazy is (sometimes) better.
  • “That might just work” is a great place to be for creative thinking.

Next time, I’ll be writing about how you can start executing some of these ideas using techniques and technologies readily available to everyone.

Happy Imagineering!


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