September 20, 20141 Comment

Creative Technique: Chance Creativity

push for eureka
Chance can inspire great ideas. It's the proverbial "Eureka" moment. Most of the times, though, we don't have the luxury of waiting for chance to strike. The real world is full of deadlines and sometimes ideas need to come on demand. Wouldn't it be nice if we could somehow force random events to bring us ideas? I believe we can.

Chance creativity can be turned into an idea generation technique. It has worked for me many times. Here's how it works:

1. Remember the last time you've been somewhere you had never been before.

It can be anything: the last time you met someone new, or visited a new museum, or when you experienced a new part of town. You can also create a fresh new experience: go have lunch somewhere you've never been before. When we experience something new, we become more sensitive to the events around us. We can take advantage of that state and use those experiences as a starting point for creativity. Read more

September 13, 2014No Comments

Are Luck and Creativity one and the same?

In a previous article I wrote about the invention of Velcro and how the idea came to be. It touched on taking inspiration from nature's designs, but there's another side to that story I'd like to explore deeper now: the relationship between luck and creativity.

When George de Mestral – the inventor of velcro – noticed burrs stuck to his clothes, he did not dismiss the fact. Something that could be brushed aside as an insignificant event in his life ended up becoming the starting point of his legacy. Why did he not ignore the burrs, like most of us would have? Was it luck?

According to Dr. Richard Wiseman, "lucky folks – without even knowing it – think and behave in ways that create good fortune in their lives". Dr. Wiseman ran an 8-year-long experiment involving self-proclaimed lucky and unlucky people. As it turns out, only a small percentage of good or bad outcomes in our lives is a direct result of chance:

My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

– Dr. Richard Wiseman

Dr. Richard Wiseman

A man of luck

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September 6, 2014No Comments

There’s no “i” in Creatvty

There's no "I" in creatvty

There's no reason to deny it: creation is a selfish act. We hear the stories about TV artists being a bit too touchy about criticism or the singer who throws a fit because things aren't exactly the way he wants. Anyone who's ever created something has felt at least a little bit like that. Doesn't matter if it's a company, a marketing plan or even a power-point presentation. When it's your idea, it's personal.

We know that great breakthroughs in creativity come from environments that allow creative people to exchange ideas. This is the whole basis of Steven Johnson's research – you can find out more about it in this great video or watch his TED talk. An ambient where ideas can be exchanged is a breeding ground for innovation and we definitely need to share our ideas with our peers in early stages to allow for cross-pollination and improvement. That's not the same as saying we should come up with ideas in groups. Read more

August 14, 20141 Comment

The Brain Popcorn Effect explained

In a previous post I have mentioned the Brain Popcorn Effect and quickly defined it as "what happens when you say or show something that taps into your audience's pre-existing knowledge and makes your message bigger". In this article I'll go into more detail about it.

Advertising has a very specific way of communicating – and we can learn a lot from it. The lessons go beyond advertising.

Throughout the years, advertising has sought to convey specific messages to the audience. Advertisers dealt with payed media space and limited time slots (i.e. 30s commercials). Because of that, and in the name of effectiveness, the ad industry developed a talent to squish a lot of information into a small space. We ended up being quite good at it. Advertising copywriters spend most of their time trying to use the least words possible to convey a message, and art directors are the most happy when they can convey a message with no words at all.

"Sorry for the long email. If I had more time, it would have been shorter."

- Every copywriter in advertising

Read more

July 20, 20141 Comment

How to Nurture Your Creative 6th Sense

I’ve said before that creative people assume stuff a lot. We have to. In order to judge if an idea is going to work or not, we have to play it out in our heads – it’s like a creative 6th sense. Our mind is everything we have to rely on when we’re generating new ideas.

One could argue (specially marketing researchers) that scientific knowledge should play a large part in the creative process – but the black-and-white of science rarely matches the lively color palettes of highly creative people. The following story illustrates my point well.

When I was in design school back in Brazil I had to develop a scientific experiment on graphic design for my graduation paper. It was a pretty big deal - it's supposed to be the best thing you produce in college.

I have always loved typography. For me doing something about type design was a natural choice. So, although I had chosen an artistic field of study for a reason, I set out to conduct a scientific experiment about typographic adequacy. Read more

June 29, 2014No Comments

Hi, my name is Leo Rosa Borges and I am a professional creative

In my 14 years in the ad industry I have learned a lot about creativity. I've learned from experience, from studying and from seeing creative people work. But the most important thing I learned about creativity is that it can help solve any kind of problem, not just client briefs. I've started this website to share my learnings and rogue theories in the hope of helping others be more creative – be it in advertising or not.


The ad industry is famous for a couple of things: creativity first and foremost. Ours just might be the fastest idea-generating industry in the world. Advertising agencies comes up with amazingly creative solutions for their clients on a regular basis. But the amount of creative ideas we generate every day is not reflected on what you see on the streets, on TV or online. For every idea that sees the light of day, there were probably a hundred plus decent alternatives that went to the trash. Which leads me to my second point.

The ad industry is also famous for its long working hours. 80-hour weeks is something we hear about often. Some of us just accept it and push through it. And it works. I dare say most of the world's top advertising creatives work very long hours day in and day out.

I'm not one of those guys.

We need to have a life outside advertising to get inspired and "cross-pollinate" our thinking. Otherwise you will keep having inbred ideas - that happens when all your inspiration comes from within advertising, and the results feel like something you've seen before.

But how do we escape the creative rat race? How can we still do great work and be successful without killing ourselves? What we need to do is to revisit our creative process, and there are a number of ways of doing it - both orthodox and otherwise.

Since I started my first job in advertising, I started looking for ways to work faster and better than everyone else. The things that help me be a better creative sometimes seem crazy or counter-intuitive. Sometimes it's just plain obvious.

Some stuff really works for me, and maybe it works for you too. It doesn't matter if you work in advertising or not, some of the ideas I'll share with you on this website may help you be better and more efficient with your creativity.

Leave me a comment below, let's discuss. Do you also think creative people can be brilliant and leave the office on time?


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Get my free mini-course "Cannes Update 2019"No Cannes Lions this year? This is the next best thing.

Get an in depth look at winners and discussions that happened in 2019, including:

  • The controversial stories behind the biggest winners.
  • Trends that were revealed then and are now in full swing.
  • The future of the advertising industry and why David Droga sold out to a consultancy firm.