I’m not sure I know what derivatives are in financial markets, but I sure know what they are in marketing…and there are two kinds: derivative creative and derivative context.
Derivative creative feels like an idea stolen. When you see or hear the idea, you think of another brand. That’s bad. When an idea has a conscience tied to one brand, you must stay away. Hack creatives make a living on this type of stuff. It smells like something bad in the fridge.
Then there is derivative context. This is smart creative. It’s not as smart as something absolutely clean and un-owned, but it is smart nonetheless and doesn’t require bazillions to seed the idea with consumers. It’s smart because the idea comes pregnant with meaning the marketer doesn’t need to build. If I say “Hot Tomato” is sounds like “Hot Potato” and contextualized makes one think of something too hot to hold. (Okay, bad example, but it’s early in the morning.)
Derivative creative bad. Derivative context good. Next! Peace.