May 10, 2018
While I was speaking at the Clever Content Conference in Copenhagen this April, my friend, Christian, proudly showed me his hometown Copenhagen. The city is not big and you can pretty much walk and bike everywhere. He and I walked around the town for 8 hours straight. I visited little mermaid, churches, the Royal garden and more. But I was mostly blown away by an area called Freetown Christiania. I was shocked that a place like this could exist in modern society. Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous anarchist district of about 850 to 1,000 residents, covering approx. 84 acres in Copenhagen. The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, independent of the Danish government. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns etc. It started back in the 70’s with many hippies who cherished a progressive and liberal lifestyle. Of course, the idea was great and the utopia didn’t last. Crime organizations and gangsters quickly infiltrated the area.
In the middle of Christiania is Pusher Street where you can buy different grades of marijuana. But weed is not legal in Copenhagen, the people who are selling are not really law-abiding citizens. Therefore, when you walk down that street, you are not allowed to take pictures. These people don’t want their faces plastered all over social media. When I was walking on that particular street, I could tell I was being watched, but the mood was light… People were talking and joking, but you could tell people were watching you.
In that area, graffiti everywhere. All the houses are built with recycled material. None of these houses have solid foundations. It seems that there are public showers for residents. Even though people say no rules apply to Christiania there are clearly unwritten rules or codes that people live by. Because of that, the area is not dirty and there are no piles of smelly trash. So, despite the anarchy, there are still rules that people need to follow so that the community won’t fall into chaos. It’s called Freetown, but it’s not so free that you can do anything you want if it messes up the community.
Walking around Christiania made me think about creative development in marketing. Being creative doesn’t mean any boundaries. It’s quite the opposite. Without boundaries, it’s created for the sake of being creative. It’s random. It’s like using a bow to shoot arrows but without aim or a target.
The inception of a creative concept for a big marketing campaign needs to be guided by some sort of rules or boundaries. Those boundaries are set by a brand guide, messaging framework, campaign objectives and more. Therefore, you need to craft a creative brief which includes relevant information such as communications objectives, the name of the product, product value propositions, marketing channels where the campaign will run, target audience and calls-to-action. The brief should be 1-2 pages, not 30 slides. You set up some boundaries while leaving the creative director freedom to come up with several awesome ideas to guide your marketing campaigns. Constraints need to be set up in order for creativity to flourish. Rules need to be established even for anarchy to exist.
I was surprised that a place like Freetown Christiania is tolerated by the Danish government. This town adds a unique differentiator to the brand of Copenhagen. It drives more than 500,000 visitors a year and is the 4th most popular tourist spot of the city. When you have a chance to visit Copenhagen, please check it out.
Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner
Be well. Until next time.