Big Idea (marketing)

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Big Idea in marketing and advertising is a term used to symbolize the foundation for a major undertaking in these areas - an attempt to communicate a brand, product, or concept to the general public, by creating a strong message that pushes brand boundaries and resonates with the consumers.[1]

The term "Big Idea" has been used in the works of marketing gurus David Ogilvy [2] and George Lois,[3][4] and in a book[5] authored by Thomas H. Davenport, Laurence Prusak, and H. James Wilson.


"You will never win fame and fortune unless you invent big ideas. It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night." - David Ogilvy

The Big Idea can do many things:[6]

  • Change pop-culture
  • Transform a language
  • Start a business

The management of Big Ideas is more important now than ever before, because the market is flooded with idea creators, media coverage is constantly increasing and the number of professionals able to deal with idea assessment is scarce.[7]


The creation of a Big Idea can be described through two main approaches:


Not forcing yourself into anything, allowing the Idea to form naturally from the marketing challenge you are facing. As advised by George Lois:

  • Start out blank, with an open mind, make no assumptions
  • Forget the trends and traditions surrounding you
  • Do not concentrate on creating the Big Idea, "you snare it from the air as it floats around you"[8]


Collect valuable information from consumers by the using qualitative and quantitative research. Steps:

  • Create list of ideas
  • Collect data from consumers
  • Assess the list, considering the information gathered[1]


What makes a Big Idea:[1]

  • It creates an emotional connection with the public
  • It is distinct, re-imagining the way we think, act or feel
  • It has value as a topic for discussion, due to being resonant and meaningful
  • It pierces through any cultural and ethnical borders, connects with people at a deeper level
  • It is universal, can be communicated across all media platforms


  1. ^ a b c Big Ideas: Research can make a big difference
  2. ^ Ogilvy, David (March 12, 1985). Ogilvy on Advertising (1st Vintage Books ed.). Vintage. ISBN 978-0394729039.
  3. ^ Lois, George (September 1, 1991). WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? (1st ed.). Doubleday Business. ISBN 978-0385414869.
  4. ^ Lois, George (September 15, 2008). George Lois: On His Creation of the Big Idea. Assouline Publishing. ISBN 978-2759402991.
  5. ^ Davenport, Thomas (2003). What's the Big Idea? Creating and Capitalizing on the Best New Management Thinking. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press. ISBN 9781578519316.
  6. ^ "The Big Idea Wanted Dead or Alive". Archived from the original on 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  7. ^ "What's The Big Idea? - Review". Archived from the original on 2017-11-12. Retrieved 2019-06-08.
  8. ^ The Big Idea

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