THE BATTLE OF CREATIVITY

In 1939 the German ship Graf Spee was loose in the Atlantic Ocean.
This ship was designed to sink British merchant ships.
She did it effortlessly.
The British sent 3 ships to find and attack her.
It wasn’t really a fair fight.
The three British ships were smaller and older than the Graf Spee.
Two of the British ships, The Ajax and The Achilles, had six-inch guns as their main armament.
The Graf Spee had six-inch guns as her secondary armament.
True, the elderly British cruiser, Exeter, had eight-inch guns as her main armament.
But the Graf Spee had eleven-inch guns as her main armament.
Graf Spee was bigger, faster, more powerful, and more modern.
The Graf Spee’s main guns could hit the British ships before they even got in range.
And that’s what she did.
Sensibly enough she picked off the biggest British ship first.
As the British ships chased the Graf Spee, she pounded the Exeter almost to bits.
Eventually The Exeter was near sinking and had to break off.
Now The Graf Spee was free to attack Ajax and Achilles easily.
But instead her captain took her to Montevideo.
This was a neutral port, and the ship was allowed a short time for repairs.
Meanwhile the two smaller British ships waited outside the port.
Everyone guessed they were waiting for a much larger British fleet
Obviously the British couldn’t let The Graf Spee get away.
And the Germans had a spy who intercepted a secret message.
It was from the British embassy requesting hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel oil at short notice.
Enough for a fleet of battleships and aircraft carriers.
So the German captain knew he had a choice.
Come out and be blown to bits, or surrender.
He chose neither.
He took his ship out into The River Plate.
He sank it, and shot himself.
Rather than face the massive British naval force.
What he didn’t know was that there weren’t any massive British naval force.
The message from the British embassy was a fake.
Meant to be intercepted and cracked.
What was actually waiting outside the harbour was the two much smaller British cruisers.
The ones he’d already effectively beaten before he entered Montevideo harbour.
So it wasn’t the Royal navy that beat The Graf Spee.
It was allowing someone to believe what they wanted to believe.
It was helping them to beat themselves.
It was taking advantage of a situation.
It was turning a disadvantage into an advantage.
Just the way Bill Bernbach did with Volkswagen and Avis.
The way Charlie Saatchi did with British Airways.
The way Ed McCabe did with Volvo.
The way David Abbott did with The Economist.
The way truly creative people look at a problem and see an opportunity.

As Bill Bernbach said, “It may be that creativity is the last unfair advantage we can legally take over our competitors.”

It was creativity that won The Battle of The River Plate.


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    Dave
    Would you say Advertising is a simple game been made complicated?

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    John,
    Brian Clough, Bill Bernbach, and Ron Greenwood all said ‘Simplicity is genius’.

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    Dave,

    All I’m seeing is “simples” not simple.

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    Bill Bernbach was a genius. Loved his Avis ‘We try harder’ campaigns.

    He hated everything that had been done before. He often used to say, It’s the clients money but it’s MY work. If only there were more creatives like that….then maybe we won’t see as many rehashed work out there

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    Love that Bernbach quote Pras.
    I hadn’t heard that before.

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    Hans Langsdorff was sold a dummy. And paid with his life… American Express wasn’t available at the time.

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    ‘ Any fool can make things more complicated, making things simple requires a touch of genius’ Albert Einstein.

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    I hadn’t heard that before Rachel.
    Now I have, I will nick it.

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    Pras
    Any thoughts on getting your fans to give up their old replica shirts to benefit a good cause such as https://central.veoliawater.co.uk/kit-aid.aspx?
    Maybe you could offer a discount on a new one once they do?

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    Einstein says feel free to nick it Dave. He’s not precious. BTW What did you think of the Ian Dury film?

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    Rachel,
    The guy who acted as Ian was terrific.
    But, for me, I thought the filmt was a bit girly.
    Dwelling on the emotional pain rather than the fun and creative rebelliousness.
    Not enough laughs or lyrics or outrageousness.
    But my wife and daughter loved it.

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    I thought it was over styled myself. Too shiny and glossy.. But you’re right, the guy who played Ian was amazing.

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    Andy Sirkis – same guy who played Sméagol/Gollum in LOTRings

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    The dark side is always way more interesting than the light, you know that Dave. Don’t know if you saw any of it but the Curse of Comedy was all about the emotional pain too. Brilliant depictions of some of our well loved entertainers. Kenneth Williams, Hancock, Harry H. Corbett. IMHO probably best thing the beeb have done in a long while.
    The quality is all in the writing.

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    I know a lot of people agree with you John, but personally I don’t.
    I’m more interested in watching George Best play football than his drinking.
    I’d rather see Ali box than listen to his politics.
    I’d rather listen to the Goon Show than hear how depressed Spike Milligan got.
    Everyone’s got the same problems, not just famous people.
    I’d rather hear what makes them different, what I can learn and use.
    But that’s just me I guess.

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    …but Dave ‘The Damned United’. Dark side, no?

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    It’s true, but half the book was about what he did at Derby, and how he did it.
    Te other half was about what he did wrong at Leeds, and how not to do it.
    So I can learn from it.

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    Well we can all learn from both sides of the coin, don’t you think?

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    This looks like something we can all learn from. http://bit.ly/b3Aaav

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    John,
    How it is for me is, if the dark side is something that they learned from, that helped make them great at what they do, then I’m interested.
    If the dark side is just about their problems, then I’m not.
    So George Best was an alcoholic, that wasn’t what made him great.
    Brian Clough was an alcoholic, that wasn’t what made him great.
    We had a secretary at BMP who was an alcoholic, it didn’t make her great.
    Famous people get indulged a lot more than ordinary people.
    It’s the Oprah effect (or maybe affect).
    We’ve all got problems, we all have to cope.
    What interests me is what made them great, how did they do it, what can I take from that, that I can use to make me better at what I do?
    That’s all.

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    BTW John, I’m not saying nobody should be interested.
    My wife is very interested in that stuff.
    She loves the drama and the emotion.
    I’m just saying I’m not.

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    Dave
    Surely it is relevant and therefore interesting to learn how different people cope with and ultimately overcome adversity. Maybe the way this is depicted for dramatic effect is what you don’t find interesting? BTW it looks like your team will be attempting The Great Escape yet again.

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    Dave

    I think we are singing from the same hymn sheet or rather the same hymn but from different denominations.

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    It’s funny how Langsdorff, Doenitz, Ali, Clough, all suffered the same fate of finding themselves in an impossible situation when their own self-satisfaction became their downfall as they all made the same mistake and took their eye off the ball.