Question advertising

Creativity isn't as simple as artfully worded prose, carefully directed pictures or a beautifully shot TVC.
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Creativity isn’t as simple as artfully worded prose, carefully directed pictures or a beautifully shot TVC

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Andy Mitchell and Friday O’Flaherty, Running with Scissors’ co-founders, are turning advertising on its head and looking to put the lost art of creativity back into the heart of business. The singular goal is to find the best answer to any question—whether that involves creating an ‘ad’ or not.

“We’ve redefined the role of an advertising agency,” says O’Flaherty. “It’s our job to use creative thinking to do what hasn’t been done, not to repeat the same technique with new words and pictures and expect a different outcome.”

“This isn’t about the death of advertising,” explains Mitchell. “We’re just changing the way marketing works. We want everybody to stop and ask themselves, ‘Is this the best thing to do?’ We believe we have the tools and inspiration to end habitual decision-making and make marketing more effective.”

To avoid defaulting to traditional thinking, Running with Scissors has two simple business principles:

1. Not benefiting from any one particular outcome

Most integrated advertising agencies survive by selling their clients the solution they provide, says Mitchell. “This means, regardless of what’s best for your business, you’ll only be given an answer that covers that agency’s financial needs.”

Without the overheads of a permanent creative department, web production team or a studio full of designers, Running with Scissors isn’t driven by finding work to feed these mouths. Instead, it enjoys the genuine freedom to find the best solution and then pull together the right team to bring it to life.

Comparative advertising is usually the preserve of mortal enemies but in this case, it’s used in a light-hearted way to expound the benefits of both Monteith’s ciders

2. Great ideas can be anything and can come from anyone

O’Flaherty and Mitchell believe the traditional approach of only finding creativity in the creative department means clients will always be fed the same kind of answers.

Mitchell draws this analogy: “If you go to the same well every day, you can’t expect to get water one day and beer the next. There’s creativity to be found everywhere, so why limit yourself to only one well?”

For this reason, Running with Scissors tackles challenges by assembling original thinkers from many disciplines to work through a facilitated idea-generation and refinement process.

Those involved are dubbed ‘Eclectic Creatives’ and run the gamut from barristers to baristas, orchardists to artists, accountants to storytellers, and their diverse experiences and day-to-day lives provide the spark for great ideas.

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Running with Scissors' campaign for Monteith's Crushed Pear Cider kicked off with a staged protest outside DB Breweries in Waitemata

Not just rhetoric

Running with Scissors recently applied its style of boundless thinking to the launch of Monteith’s Crushed Pear Cider. The aim was to promote its many virtues and ensure clear differentiation from another Monteith’s product, its Crushed Apple Cider, which itself is still relatively new to the New Zealand market.

The agency engaged a diverse range of minds to help find a solution. Kumeu orchardist Monte was full of insights into apples and pears. Comparisons of the two fruits were further explored by a journalist, a screen writer, and an enthusiastic cycling musician and documentary maker.

One morning, staff arriving at DB Breweries’ Waitemata site were met by a mob of placard-waving apple- supporters, pleading with them to avoid ‘pear-shaped lies’. The ‘protest’ was the beginning of a Running with Scissors’ campaign that sees the new pear variant take on unlikely foe Monteith’s Crushed Apple Cider in a series of tonguein- cheek comparative advertising pieces.

“Comparative advertising is usually the preserve of mortal enemies,” notes O’Flaherty, “but in this case, it’s used in a lighthearted way to expound the benefits of both Monteith’s ciders. The idea helped us promote two products at the same time and talk about the benefits of each in an engaging and refreshing way.”

For the development and implementation, Running with Scissors handpicked interesting specialists and portrayed the idea in print, radio, online, in-store and some unexpected places.

“Quality of implementation is as important as the idea itself and we’re able to engage the best individuals or agencies to deliver in their specialist area,” says O’Flaherty.

Monteith’s marketing manager Russell Browne couldn’t be happier. “We’re really pleased with how the core idea has been translated into so many mediums and how cleverly Running with Scissors has collaborated. We have a great campaign that’s been executed with a refreshing amount of ease.”

The Monteith’s work demonstrates the power of thinking beyond the industry. Many minds worked on each step and created a campaign that challenged conventional wisdom—in this case, a brand advertising against itself.

“Our model is new and we’re heading in a completely different direction to traditional agencies,” says O’Flaherty. “We’ve built our business to provide the best answers for our clients and that means being open to any outcome. How many agencies can honestly say that?”

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