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Turning Lemons Into Lemonade For The Next Generation

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By Marcus Peterzell, Executive Vice-President Entertainment, Ketchum Sports and Entertainment & Head of Ketchum Sounds

For someone over 40....I love technology. I organise my friendships, entertainment, money and shopping online. My home is festooned with the latest gadgets (set up my son of course), and I get to work all over the world because various shiny devices allow me to do so. I'm lucky enough to be involved in multiple digital campaigns with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.

But even as a huge advocate of digital technology, it drives me a little nuts to hear so many people implying that just by using the latest social and digital platforms they are somehow being creative.

Experimenting with the latest apps and devices is certainly innovative. But creative? No, I don't think so.

For me creativity is usually about stripping away excess activity and getting down to what will really turn heads, what disrupts the ebb and flow of everyday life, and what taps into people's personal emotional stories.

Ok fine, perhaps it's only fair to give you an example.

Back in 2013 we were working with an a technology client out of Canada with our sister agency Access. They had just installed wifi systems on the New York subways.

Our original launch idea had all the trimmings. We had arranged for Michael Bublé to sing at Times Square in front of the Mayor and assorted VIPs. The public were invited and a special set had been designed. We were planning to live stream the event on the subway system, do a great photoshoot and amplify what the public shared socially.

Then, with two days to go the New York Police Department withdrew our performance licence because of safety concerns following the Boston bombings. With the client still expecting big results, and Michael already flying to NY with an absolutely packed schedule - we were in a tight spot.

Initially we focussed on how narrow our options had become and we figured we were pretty screwed. But as we talked about the confines of our situation it actually became quite liberating. We realised something simple could really pop.

So just after Michael had finished a TV show interview with Kelly and Michael, we took him directly downstairs and onto the subway, no permits, no security. There on a platform, with his back-up singers and one photographer from the New York Times he began to sing a cappella.

This was a man who was regularly selling out arenas. The impact was incredible.

'I've seen it all' New Yorkers couldn't believe their eyes. The city buzzed with excitement as people shared images online. Fans went crazy across America as they talked about this surprise appearance.

Nearly 5 million people organically viewed the video on YouTube. The New York Times blew up their prized photograph on page two. Mentions of the clients abounded and everyone was delighted with the results. Michael himself, called it "the coolest thing ever."

For me, the moral of this story is that we've all got all this digital stuff to play with - and that alone can lead to great innovation. But genuine creativity isn't about channels at all. It's about ideas, taking risks and looking at the world in a radically different way.