I love this picture.
I like Benedict Cumberbatch, in that way you can like someone you’ve never met purely through assumptions you’ve made based on their public appearances.
And I hate the paparazzi who took it, in the way you can hate someone you’ve never met merely by their perpetually parasitic behaviour that is imperceptibly corroding much of what you hold dear about society in pursuit of another unnecessary and intrusive image.
I can get uncomfortable when celebrities show their support for issues, or endorse certain causes.
I know they’re using their influence for good, but it can also seem arrogant.
But saw this over the weekend, and I love it.
Because nothing about it says, ‘I’m a star and I’m doing this because I can’.
It says, ‘the fact that this picture exists is wrong’.
It uses the context of the photo and harnesses the energy of an moment that otherwise would have disappeared forever.
It got me thinking about whether other people in the public eye might start doing something similar.
Imagine if this started a trend of people calling out the paparazzi?
Imagine if they became embarrassed out of doing what they do?
I know it’s unlikely. If the death of Princess Diana and hacking of Millie Dowler’s phone can’t generate sufficient outrage to outweigh people’s desire to enjoy the sordid fruits of a free press then I’m not sure a few hand drawn messages can either.
But possibility is the energy of a great creative idea.
Because that’s what this is.
Cumberbatch has changed the conversation using a creative sidestep.
He is using the paparazzi’s intrusion and its reach and influence against it.
Rather than fight the prevailing situation he has used it to his advantage.
He’s harnessed latent energy to created a new canvas, a platform that didn’t really exist until he did it.
It’s a new precedent for others to follow, a chance for a new norm to be created.
He might even make people think differently, by implying a different, better scenario is possible.
He’s not just fighting for attention, he’s allowing people to think for themselves.
A message to one audience will be overheard by a far bigger audience. One they care far more about.
He hasn’t simply taken the opposition on.
He’s made them look stupid and unimportant.
Ideas like this are all around us, just like this one was.
(So much so I’m almost certain this has been done before, but familiarity is the other great characteristic of a great creative idea.)
They’re hiding in plain sight.
Big ideas don’t always need the step change clients and agencies assume they might do.
Sometimes they just need a creative sidestep.
Image courtesy of Buzzfeed