The Shangri-La of Great Creative: Universal Truths

In search of ideas that resonate.


Several years ago, as an executive at Publicis, I was invited to serve on a committee tasked with developing the positioning for this iconic French advertising and marketing services agency that was virtually unknown in the U.S. at the time. Led by Bob Bloom, then Chairman and CEO of Publicis in the U.S., we came up with an idea I’ve never forgotten, even though it was ultimately rejected by Maurice Lévy, the man at the top of the Publicis food chain, because he said no agency could consistently live up to such a high standard.

So what was our big idea? It was to stake a claim on the ability to develop creative ideas that strike a common chord with everyone, regardless of their age, religion, gender or nationality. We’ve all seen such ideas translated into television commercials, public relations concepts and social media campaigns. When an idea is based on Universal Truths, we understand, regardless of our frame of reference.

Throughout the years my appreciation of the power of Universal Truths has remained the standard by which I measure great creative ideas.

In our attempt to sell this idea to Mr. Lévy, we developed a video using Publicis creative from around the world to make our point. The video script sums it up:

Universal Truths

Things we all know.

Emotions we all feel.

Jokes we all get.

Because they’re based on simple truths.

Little thoughts and notions we all know to be true.

Because they are.

No matter where you’re from,

what language you speak,

or what your beliefs may be.

The result is communication that reaches more people.

Touches more nerves.

Let’s more people relate to your selling proposition.

And endears your brand in a way everyone can relate to.

Whether you’re talking to them locally, nationally, or around the world.

Which in the case of Publicis, is often all three.

Universal Truths.