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INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF CREATIVITY | 17-24 JUNE 2017

The Art of Stealing

Jonathan Fraser explains the idea behind his recent talk at eurobest

Jonathan Fraser (more commonly known as ‘Fraser’), Chief Strategy Officer at Exposure, recently appeared at eurobest to extol the virtues of theft. It turns out there are good ways to steal, and bad ways to steal. Here’s the difference according to Fraser…

Fraser stealing
"Our industry is obsessed with developing new things, and never repeating ideas that have come before."
Jonathan Fraser, Chief Strategy Officer, Exposure

“How many times have you been asked to develop a ‘world first’? How many times have you put an idea in the bin because someone tells you it’s been done? How many times have you banged your head against a wall because there’s no new inspiration? Our industry is obsessed with developing new things, and never repeating ideas that have come before.

"However in other creative industries, like art, literature and music, it’s much more accepted to take the work of others and build on it. For example a song called Amen Brother by The Winstons has been sampled over 2,000 times by everyone from Jay-Z to The Prodigy.

Fraser points out that in music stealing is nothing new: the "Amen Break" has been used by everyone from Jay-Z to The Prodigy
"If we could stop our reliance on magically coming up with something new, we could unlock a whole raft of untapped creative thinking."
Jonathan Fraser, Chief Strategy Officer, Exposure

"I wanted to find out if there was a way we could get better as an industry at stealing other people’s ideas to unlock new creative thinking. If we could stop our reliance on magically coming up with something new, we could unlock a whole raft of untapped creative thinking. However while developing my talk, I discovered that we are actually in a new era of stealing ideas. More campaigns than you think are stolen from YouTube videos created by the general public.

"Some are stolen to great effect and have led to brilliant campaigns. Other thefts are lazy, morally dubious, even illegal. I set out to look at what makes some ‘idea stealing’ better than others. I spent months tracking down pilfered ideas, dissecting the elements that were stolen and evaluating them.

"During the talk I showed examples of the best and worst steals, then revealed my five principles to the art of stealing; which if followed can turn anyone into a master idea thief."

"I want people to feel not just equipped to steal but also inspired to, and hopefully remove the stigma we’ve placed upon it."
Jonathan Fraser, Chief Strategy Officer, Exposure

"The main point of the talk was to encourage everyone to go and find campaigns and ideas that they wanted to steal. I wanted people to feel not just equipped to steal but also inspired to, and hopefully remove the stigma we’ve placed upon it.

"After the talk the biggest reaction was one of relief that someone was being honest. A lot of people are stealing ideas but don’t want to admit it. Hopefully I’ve inspired people to admit that they steal and taught them how to do it better.

"Since the talk I’m hugely aware of stealing ideas. I notice stolen ideas much more easily and I keep a list of ideas I want to steal. There’s so much great thinking that can become even better. By ignoring this we are shutting off huge opportunities to do even greater work for clients, brands and people.”

Jonathan Fraser has spoken at several editions of Cannes Lions and eurobest. Check out ‘Stand Up for Planning’ or ‘Game Show Theory’ on the Cannes Lions Archive.

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