When my younger daughter was home, she often watched a show on television called "America's Next Top Model." In this show, young women from around the US were processed to meet a preconceived notion of what a model should look like, walk like, pose like and talk like.
If you think about life over the last 50 years, despite all the corporate mumbo-jumbo about diversity, America has become a great conformity machine.
We eat at the same bland chain restaurants, shop in the same bland chain stores, listen to the same bland chain news and express the same bland chain opinions. We don't want questions marks in our life, we prefer the tried and true. That's why our cities look the same, our tv shows have the same laugh tracks, our presidential candidates make the same speeches and even most Hollywood stars remind you of someone else.
I often look at creative portfolios and, these days, almost invariably, there's some navigation that is headed "Awards." A list follows that's as long as a baby's leg. They've won gold here, merit there, silver and bronze. And their work looks like everything else of the last five years. In fact, I fully predict in the next three or six months, some dimwitted brand will do something over-the-top involving caricatures of moms being dragged by caricatures of 70s automobiles. It won for Wieden; it's good enough for me.
The key, of course, to getting noticed is being different. But all the committees, all the comfort-seekers, all the research and focus groups push you in a diametric direction.
No one will get fired for producing work that's already been seen.