C.H.E.M. book review of Leap! A Revolution in Creative Business Strategy, by Bob Schmetterer

By sharing dozens of firsthand case studies, Bob Schmetterer reveals the Euro RSCG secret recipe for creating great brand experiences.

Leap is a guidebook to success for any company willing to color outside the lines of traditional advertising and marketing.

The book’s stories from the point of view that traditionally, companies and their marketers would develop a business strategy, then hire an ad agency to back up that strategy with creative advertising. But the author shows, through many examples and personal stories, that the most effective campaigns were born when a company worked with their ad agency to develop a business strategy — one that had a big creative idea at its heart. That’s what the author calls a Creative Business Idea.

This review is another in a series from books in my library I like to look back on. They have provided some important innovation influences. So, I’m writing a series of book reviews using my C.H.E.M. Persuasion Model for communications effectiveness:

  • Connect – to fit in their world, not try to disrupt it
  • Honest – utilize your best data, not distort it
  • Easy – share information, not make it more difficult
  • Motivate – to show customers how to take action, not demand it



This book immediately connects with readers who often see Creative and Business as two separate functions, often not even comfortable talking with each other. This book shows that there is another way to combine the excitement and potential of creative thinking with the business strategy to determine a larger solution and develop it throughout the brand and the organization.

Bob Schmetterer has established credibility because he was the chairman and CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide. At the time, it one of the world’s top five global advertising and communication agencies. Its clients included Intel, Peugeot, Air France, Orange, Abbey National, MCI, Dannon Yogurt, Reckitt Benckiser, Volvo and Yahoo.



Schmetterer acknowledges that creating big ideas was exciting and productive, but also challenging. It required the wisdom and study of a left brain thinker, with the magic, experience and insatiable curiosity of a right brain creative thinker. Yet this is where the thrill of discovery happened, taking the research, instinct and originality and watching them come together with a force that the author says, “practically vibrates.” If you like that kind of challenge and engagement, then you’re going to love this book.



You can read about examples of a Creative Business Idea that not only sold products and established brands, but also transformed entire companies and categories. Some of the examples include:

  1. In Argentina, a real estate developer wanted an ad campaign to promote a new project. Creative thinkers at the ad agency thought it would be better create a business idea to build a bridge with millions budgeted for advertising. Not a figurative bridge, but a literal one. Imagine the reaction.
  2. Volvo had built its automobile business on a single idea. Safety. How to announce to the world that the car maker had added new values to its brand and was not the same old boring, safe Volvo. Not an ad campaign, instead a reVOLVOlution in its business and marketing strategy.
  3. Until Frank Perdue came along, the chicken business was a commodity business. Now it’s a branded business. His.
  4. A South American confectioner was watching sales drop, so it launched an ongoing contest that gave children the opportunity to create their own business ideas in the form of candy. Sweet success.
  5. A Swedish paint consortium wanted to increase sales, it did, but not with an ad campaign, but with a hit TV show.
  6. Nokia wanted to broaden its appeal to mobile users in Europe, beyond its ad campaign. The answer was the first Pan-European interactive multimedia game.

Another case study is for Intel. “Talk about a difficult proposition,” the author says. “With chickens at least you can see what you were buying. But imagine coming up with an idea to brand a tiny piece of technology, the microprocessor, so deep inside the computer that the consumer never sees it, that’s a big leap. But Intel had a strong urgent need to create the desire in the hearts and minds of consumers, for its product. The company had its work cut out for us. First, to explain what its product line was all about, and then to convince consumers that Intel microprocessors were the best available.” The creative leap called Intel Inside, catapulted them from a little known engineering company, to one of the world’s most recognized and valuable brand names in the world. Not an advertising idea, a big Creative Business Idea.

Other examples included in the book are:

  • Sony Walkman,
  • United Colors of Benetton, MCI 1-800-COLLECT,
  • Starbucks and the branded culture around which its coffee house was built, and
  • MTV and its campaign, I Want My MTV.



How does a team achieve these kind of Creative Business Ideas? The author concludes the book with two calls to actions.

First is trust, and the following lessons:

  1. Trust is about commitment and about being comfortable that everyone else in the room is as committed to the idea as you are.
  2. Trust is based on a clear understanding of the common set of goals.
  3. Trust requires openness and sharing.
  4. Trust is forged one relationship at a time.
  5. There can be no trust in the absence of respect.

The second call to action is a creative brief for the 21st century. Rather than send out a narrowly defined creative brief to the agency, or creative company, and expecting them to come back with campaign ideas in a few weeks, instead, completely change the way of thinking about marketing communications and write a business brief and challenge them to come with Creative Business Ideas.

As you prepare to make the leap within your own organization, here are 10 key places Schmetterer says to look before you leap.

  1. Say goodbye to advertising.
  2. Reduce the casualty rate.
  3. Choose a left brain or right brain partner to compliment your skills.
  4. Don’t give the consumer your undivided attention. The old business model of building meaningful brands was rooted in understanding the consumer. Instead, change it. Deeply explore and become intimate with the DNA of the brand. The space between the two are the Creative Business Ideas and where they’re born.
  5. Let the singers sing and the dancers dance.
  6. Eliminate the fiefdoms.
  7. Be entertaining.
  8. This isn’t dating, it’s marriage.
  9. Bear your soul.
  10. Create a brief for the 21st century. We all know that advertising is no longer just about USPs, it’s not even about marketing communication, that old creative brief is obsolete. Now it’s in our hands to create a new creative brief for the 21st century. If you’re a client, demand a creative relationship from your agency. If you’re an agency, demand one from your client. Go beyond ad campaigns and beyond asking for advertising. Instead, ask for creative thinking about your business and when you get it, reward it.

A review by Seth Godin wraps it up this way: “So what happens to advertising and advertising agencies when mass media totally falls apart? Here, in the middle of a smart ad man’s autobiography, may lie the answer: Smart companies will use brilliant ad agencies to reinvent their products and the way they work. Big ideas still matter.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this book review and summary using my C.H.E.M. Persuasion Model outline. I welcome your comments, feedback, and experiences to share.

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