In 2002, Comedy Central aired an episode of the foul-mouthed cult classic, South Park, called ‘The Simpsons Already Did It’.
The episode was born out the frustration the show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, felt trying to come up new ideas. Every time they thought they’d struck gold, someone else in the writers’ room piped up telling them that… well, the Simpsons did it.
For creatives of all persuasions, originality is a difficult issue to tackle.
It reared its monstrous head again recently with the John Lewis Christmas ad. You’ve probably seen it by now, the monster under the bed, the tired kid, the night light. Cute.
John Lewis helps themselves to my picture book. https://t.co/mrVHmalTwh
— chris riddell (@chrisriddell50) November 16, 2017
The ad world has previous in this area, liberally ‘borrowing’ concepts from YouTube and passing them off as their own.
Jesus, even the Bible tackled the struggles of originality: ‘That which has been is that which will be. And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun’ – Ecclesiastes 1:9
The point is, true originality is extremely difficult.
And in the world of online content, where 92,000 blog posts are published every day, it’s nigh on impossible.
But that’s not a reason not to write something.
What matters is putting your own spin on a concept and getting it in front of the right people.
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Yes, a million and one people may have written about the importance of design for FMCG brands (for instance), but what is your spin on that story? What makes that your article, and what matters to your audience?
Once you’ve tailored that piece to your audience, you need to get it in front of them in the most effective way – whether that’s utilising your newsletter, social media, PR, guest blogging, paid advertising or otherwise.
Your content may not be entirely original, but it can be original to them.
‘The Simpsons Already Did It’ ends with this dialogue:
Cartman: Dude, the Simpsons have done everything already. Who cares?
Stan: Yeah, and they’ve been on the air for like, thirteen years. Of course they’ve done everything.
Mr. Garrison: Every idea’s been done, Butters, even before the Simpsons.
And that’s the point. Unless you work on cutting-edge quantum mechanics, chances are you’re not breaking new ground.
BUT, put your own spin on something and distribute intelligently, and you can still be original to the people that matter.
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