It’s 2018. You’re back at work. It’s only been a couple of weeks but you already realise that it’s looking like ‘same shit, different year’.
Clients are busy tweaking last year’s briefs because there’s nothing new to say. Strategists are scouring trend reports for a new word to leverage for their prop. Creatives are dipping into their bottom drawer for inspiration. Media minds are trying not to feel disheartened by stakeholder’s inevitable demand for more TV. Everyone’s playing nice in the glow of their summer holidays, but it won’t be long before the usual politics and backstabbing comes into play.
Adland is the plastic bottle of the business sector.
If you’re wondering whether your current role offers you the opportunity to be an agent of change, you have to ask if that’s advertising’s role anymore?
In an era of consolidation, adland has become an industry that struggles with change. If nothing else, the questions around short term profitability seem to outweigh the potential discussion around the long-term future of the industry.
The problem is that advertising has become an incremental industry in an exponential world.
Adland is the plastic bottle of the business sector. At its core it’s essential to sustain life, but it’s used in a wasteful, lazy way because of its convenience. Ads have gone from needing 120 odd spots to reach 50% of people 25-54 in 2012, to 520+ in 2017. That doesn’t suggest smarter thinking is taking place. Just that we’re creating more waste. At the same time, everyone clamours to talk about the latest MLA ad, but is that just because nothing else is that memorable? (despite the 500+ spots).
Yet there is hope in 2018 for adland’s smart, creative, lateral problem solvers. Those determined to create brand and business legacies they can be proud of. It’s just that the answer is looking less and less likely to be an ad. Personally, I reached a point where I felt I could no longer continue pushing stop gap solutions and ignoring the bigger problems.
In 2018 we stand on the precipice of the Exponential Economy. The moment when AI and machine learning create such seismic advantage for early innovators that it pushes their growth curves beyond what we could ever imagine. In turn allowing them to accelerate away from the competition with such speed that they may never be caught. Could you possibly say the same thing about advertising in the 21st century? It still possesses the power to disrupt our society and dramatically impact our purchase behaviour… but is it being asked to?
So while I’ll admit it’s a little scary setting sail on a bunch of water bottles, it still seems like a better option than just sitting around and waiting for the iceberg to melt.
As you plan a course for 2018, I encourage you to be bold; step out of the confines of the advertising campaign to find people who like you are willing to look beyond the next quarter. Find bosses who are truly invested in your growth. Seek businesses to partner with who are brave enough to disrupt themselves before someone else does it to them. I did.