Think Big.

Table of Contents

Marketing has always required big ideas. Whether you worked in advertising on Madison Avenue in the 60’s or you are one of todays digital marketers, it’s all the same. Back then it was the Volkswagen ’Think Small’ campaign and today it’s the AirBnB’ Live Anywhere’ campaign. Whether you’re talking then or now, one thing still remains: the need to Think Big.

Mechanistic vs Psychological Thinking

In his work, Rory Sutherland emphasizes the distinction between two modes of thinking. Mechanistic thinking and Psychological thinking. Mechanistic thinking relies heavily on factual data, logical reasoning, and rationality. It’s the approach that prioritizes evidence-based strategies and measurable outcomes. On the other hand, psychological thinking taps into human emotions, perceptions, and behavioral insights. It’s about understanding the underlying motivations and irrationalities that drive consumer behavior.

By embracing psychological thinking, or what we’d call ‘big thinking’ marketers can tap into a different kind of creativity and innovation. Rather than being confined by rigid constraints and predetermined outcomes, they have the freedom to explore unconventional ideas and disruptive concepts. This approach acknowledges that human decision-making is often influenced by subconscious desires and subjective experiences, making it essential to appeal to emotions rather than just facts and figures.


The notion of paying R100 for example can evoke vastly different emotions depending on the context in which it’s presented. In certain situations, such as treating oneself to a favorite meal or purchasing a cherished item, parting with R100 can feel like a small indulgence—a moment of joy and satisfaction. However, in other scenarios, particularly those involving unexpected expenses or necessities, the same amount can trigger feelings of reluctance or frustration.

When individuals make purchasing decisions, they are not merely guided by rational considerations such as price or utility. Instead, their choices are often shaped by a complex interplay of emotions, desires, and psychological factors.

This is why the idea that it’s better to start with a crazy idea and then refine it aligns perfectly with the ethos of thinking big. Instead of restricting creativity from the outset by focusing solely on what’s practical or feasible, thinking big opens up endless possibilities. It allows us as marketers to challenge norms and inspire in ways that conventional approaches simply can’t match.

Orphea Milan

The Orphea ad campaign in Milan stands out as a remarkable example of thinking big in marketing. By transforming a traditional billboard into a giant insect trap using transparent glue positioned ahead of their aerosol spray, Orphea captured the attention of passersby in a truly unforgettable way. Over time, the glue trapped thousands of insects and bugs, creating a visually striking display that emphasized the effectiveness of Orphea’s products.

The billboard exemplifies how big thinking can lead to extraordinary results. While the idea may not have seemed practical or feasible and unappealing to mechanistic thinking, its execution captured the imagination of audiences and garnered widespread attention. It transformed a mundane advertising medium into a captivating spectacle that left a lasting impression on viewers.

Think Big

Thinking big means embracing the power of emotions in shaping perceptions, preferences, and purchasing decisions. It’s about recognizing that behind every transaction lies a complex interplay of desires, fears, aspirations, and insecurities. By delving into these emotional conceptions, we want to uncover insights that inspire innovative approaches to marketing and communication.

Throughout the Think Big series, we’ll explore examples of brands and campaigns that have dared to think big—those that have defied convention, challenged norms, and captivated audiences with bold ideas and compelling narratives. From groundbreaking advertising campaigns to visionary product launches, we’ll showcase the creativity, passion, and vision driving marketing excellence in today’s ever-evolving landscape.

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