Help creatives be creatives

Following OBE Worldwide’s acquisition of London-based Playmaker Experiential, Playmaker Managing Partner, James Hogben, explores how to make the most of creative thinking and ideation

James Hogben

Co-Founder and Managing Partner Playmaker Experiential


We’ve all experienced an ideas session that falls flat on its face, where ideas fail to spark any enthusiasm and the energy drains from the room. Instead of letting it bog you down, creatives need to take the time to understand and unpack the source of this creative frustration by looking at the importance of setting the scene and sending the right signals.

Few brands appreciate this better than Nike and over the past few months, together with some authentically connected and influential communities, we’ve (Playmaker Experiential) created a dance programme called Own The Floor, with some simple but effective creative ingredients: an on-trend venue in a vibrant part of East London, a great DJ and host, some branded features, mood lighting and enough water to stay hydrated, no alcohol required.

Dancers dance best with dancers. Creatives create best with creatives.

James Hogben, Managing Partner, Playmaker

And what happens next is a burst of pure creative expression that we can all learn from.

Without fear of judgement and free of competitive rules, dancers of different genres, styles and tastes dance in cyphers (circles) that organically form and perform in front of each other. The reaction they get is confirmation that their creative idea and execution is what people love and want more of. It is a room full of people that can dance ‘like everyone’s watching’, so they know a good dance when they see one. And when they see one, the whole room goes nuts, the energy levels rise, endorphins spike and the creativity flows.

So, what is going on here?

Firstly, everyone attending knows why they are attending, they know what they’ve signed up for and have put the effort in before turning up. In short, they’ve read the invite and have come prepared to be creative. Secondly, the environment sets the expectation, it looks right, it sounds good, the dance floor is the blank canvas dancers thrive in and everyone is encouraged to hold the pen.

And as dancers start to fill the floor and cyphers form, the most important ingredient then reveals itself. The dancers are a collection of positive, encouraging, receptive communities that feed off each other. As one dancer hands to the next the energy levels rise and so too does the creative flare. They’re a mix of professionally trained, self-taught and passionate dancers with one thing in common, the only rule that counts, the more you put in, the more you take out.

No one in the room says “yes but”, no one is there to highlight flaws or spot the imperfections. They’re all boosters without a blocker in sight. Let the dance take us back to the process of growing ideas and it is clear that the best audience to present a creative idea to is a room of open and willing creative people who understand the structure of having ideas and that are trained, passionate and practise their trade.

Creatives performing to creatives will respond with a boosting “yes and” allowing for ideas to grow and flourish. Much like the dances not every idea is great, but that’s not the point. Good creatives pump up the tyres of an idea, give it confidence, make it real and see what it can become.

The takeaway: Send out the right signals, set the scene, align on the format. Dancers dance best with dancers. Creatives create best with creatives. Remove pressure, judgement and constraints. Increase positivity, collaboration and energy. Set yourself for success and watch the ideas own the floor.

Guest Author

James Hogben

Co-Founder and Managing Partner Playmaker Experiential


James Hogben is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Playmaker Experiential, leveraging over 20 years of experience in the experiential sector. With 16 years spent agency-side, James has spearheaded numerous high-profile campaigns across diverse sectors, working closely with renowned clients including Nike, the NFL, and J.P. Morgan. His expertise lies in crafting immersive experiences that resonate with audiences and drive impactful results.