Distinguished author Adam Morgan fittingly celebrated the release of his new book by leading a discussion at DDB Chicago, one of the shops where he had worked during his 17 years in advertising.
Titled, “A Beautiful Constraint: How to Transform Your Limitations into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business,” the book landed on shelves at Barnes & Noble on the same day as his Jan. 20 lecture in the agency’s East West Conference Room.
DDB’s VP business development director Jamie McGarry, who organized the event with strategic planner David Chriswick and account executive Molly Madden, described it as an opportunity to receive “applicable and actionable advice.”
“Adam is a thought leader within the ‘Challenger Brand space,'” — a reference to the not-quite-household names of products and services knocking on consumer doors throughout the world — “his topic and experience are relevant to many of DDB Chicago’s brands,” she added.
Morgan opened the event with a tribute to Marshall Wilder, an actor and writer who died Jan. 20, 1915, 100 years before the group gathered at DDB. Although Wilder stood less than four feet tall and walked with a hunched back, he achieved worldwide acclaim and performed for the British Royal Family on 20 occasions without exploiting his physical notabilities.
The success was so remarkable that one writer essentially coined the phrase, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” while giving a eulogy at Wilder’s funeral.
“He was a relentless optimist,” Morgan explained, “but in the hundred years since, nobody has sat down and written the recipe for lemonade.”
”A Beautiful Constraint,” Morgan’s fourth book, “is essentially a recipe for lemonade.”
Morgan listed a number of brands that have squeezed worldwide recognition out of tart limitations by thinking exponentially within the box.
The simplicity of Google’s home page reflects the limited coding ability of Larry Page, who designed it in 1998.
The pace of professional basketball races against a 24-second shot clock that was invented to “speed up the game” and “reverse the fortunes” of a sport that nearly stumbled to a boring demise in the 1950s.
The bushy mustache, white gloves and boiler suit of Mario, “the most beloved character in the biggest entertainment business in the world,” decorate what would otherwise be imperfectly pixellated body parts.
In the advertising industry, he explained, limitations are quite often the product of small budgets and big expectations. “A key part of starting to solve it,” he said, is to ask yourself compelling questions that “frame the constraint” and “link to the ambition.”
Simply put, it’s the difference between saying “we can’t” and “we can.”
Thoroughly explored, it’s a book’s worth of advice based on scientific principles like paradoxical frames applied to brands in the consumer marketplace, wrapped in the relevancy of “A Beautiful Constraint.”