## SUDOKU CREATIVITY

In the 1980s, a numbers puzzle started in an American magazine.

But when it got to Japan it exploded.

The Japanese had long been fascinated by the western craze of crosswords.

The Japanese were fascinated because they couldn’t have crosswords in their language.

Western language has 26 symbols for sounds.

Put together in a certain order they make a longer sound, which represents something.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary these 26 basic letters make up more than half a million words.

But Eastern language has an almost infinite number of symbols, each one represents a picture of something.

So they couldn’t have crosswords in their newspapers.

Until they discovered the number puzzle we now know as Sudoku.

A box divided into 9 smaller boxes (3 down, 3 across).

Each box divided into 9 smaller boxes (3 down, 3 across).

Each row, across and down, must have each of the numbers 1-9.

And each of the nine boxes must have each the numbers 1-9 in.

Because there are only 9 numbers the rules are easy to learn.

Because there are just nine symbols.

After Japan it came to London, then New York, then the world.

I like to do Sudoku because it forces my brain to work the opposite way to normal thinking.

It’s about working out what isn’t there.

Until there can only be one answer left.

That’s how great communication works.

Work out what we don’t need to do, what has been said or done elsewhere already.

Then what’s left, must be the single thing we have to do or say.

Let me give you an example.

Several years ago the government were expecting a worldwide outbreak of bird flu.

The COI asked us to do a campaign telling people what to do in the event of a pandemic.

Like Sudoku, we take away what is already there and what’s left must be the answer.

So we know, if there is a pandemic, it will be on every news programme and newspaper in the country.

So we don’t have to tell people it’s happening,

All anyone will want to know is what to do about it.

We needed a campaign based on a simple, memorable mnemonic.

1) The disease is passed on by sneezing, so make sure you sneeze into a tissue.

2) Don’t hang onto the tissue, get rid of it in a proper receptacle.

3) Wash your hands to kill the germs.

That is how to stop the disease spreading.

We needed a simple mnemonic to help people remember all that.

So we did the line:

CATCH IT, BIN IT, KILL IT.

In the event, the bird flu pandemic didn’t happen.

But the next year there was a swine flu outbreak.

The government gave that campaign to another agency, which didn’t use the Sudoku principle.

So they ran ads assuming no one had heard of swine flu.

They ran a picture of a man sneezing, followed by long copy.

But at the time of the swine flu outbreak of course, all news media, TV, radio, press, online, was full of it.

The advertising didn’t need to waste half the media restating the problem.

By Sudoku thinking, that job’s been done elsewhere.

So you take all that away and what remains is the answer.

And the answer is, everyone needs to know what to do to stop it spreading.

So the other agency’s swine flu advertising had to be rerun, with our bird flu mnemonic at the end of the ads.

CATCH IT, BIN IT, KILL IT.

The advice on how to stop the disease spreading was the same.

And, because people could remember it, it worked.

That’s the Sudoku method of creativity.

Just keep taking things away until you’re only left with one possibility.

Then that must be the answer.

1. Nice Analogy Dave.
The Japanese are brilliant in using negative spaces. Nothing is something.
Think it’s the eastern way of thinking,
zen, ying yang and all that.

Irfan - 18 July 2012 10:15 am

2. Did u receive a bottle of champagne from Kleenex, Dave?

Grilla Login - 18 July 2012 10:36 am

3. I was thinking: Tissue, Trash, Tanquery.

Rob Hatfield - 18 July 2012 2:17 pm

4. That’s all well and good but if a train leaves cleveland going west at 6 miles per hour and takes two 4 minute breaks and a bus leaves cleveland going north at 9 miles an hour and swerves for 3 seconds to squish a squirrel, which one gets to…

john p woods - 18 July 2012 3:26 pm

5. That’s amazing, Dave. Did the client work out that they needed your line? How were the other agency about it all? What a waste of money paying to do the same job twice.

rachel carroll - 18 July 2012 3:33 pm

6. Sherlock Holmes uses the same technique.

Dr. Watson - 18 July 2012 3:38 pm

7. Refreshing twist to old Sherlock’s “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

Robin. - 18 July 2012 3:56 pm

8. Did a series of tissue meetings take place with the client be4 presenting the final work, Dave?

Grilla Login - 18 July 2012 4:22 pm

9. Rachel,exactly.

Dave Trott - 18 July 2012 6:35 pm

10. Again, Dave, thanks for all these insights. What is the name of that school that is meant for Miami Ad school reject-the one you founded. I hope to attend someday.

Toheeb - 19 July 2012 12:09 pm

11. Sorry Toheeb, it doesn’t exist anymore.
When I stopped doing it, it stopped running.

Dave Trott - 19 July 2012 2:13 pm

12. NYC was going down the toilet.
Ford snubbed their plea for funding.
Always impressed with how they turned it all around.
‘I ♥ NYC’

john p woods - 19 July 2012 6:15 pm

13. Apparently the word Sudoku means
“It can only occur once”.
There is a compelling sense of achievement in completion..

Kev - 29 July 2012 10:48 pm

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