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Rejuvenation or Obsolescence. The choice is yours

Posted on July 27, 2010 and read 1,942 times

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1cebd9d Rejuvenation or Obsolescence. The choice is yoursHilton Barbour
Marketing Provocateur
hiltonbarbour.com

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about new beginnings, rejuvenation and their counterpoint obsolescence. Couple reasons. Firstly, I’m leaving sunny England after 4 and a half years and returning to Canada. Tonnes of good in that, a few regrets. I’m also taking on a new role at a great agency. Tonnes of excitement, some trepidation. Like any “closing doors and opening windows” moment, it forces some reflection.

This reflection all came into sharp focus this week though when I was fortunate enough to attend a Master Class run by Hyper Island. Hyper Island is widely considered to be “The Harvard of Digital Creativity” and the course was fantastic. What was unique was the course location – Middlesbrough in Northern (and I mean waaayyy North) England.

image001 Rejuvenation or Obsolescence. The choice is yoursLike much of Northern England, Middlesbrough has had a tough go in the last few decades. Once the center of global iron and steel innovation, Middlesbrough has fallen on hard times as industry has increasingly moved overseas and China has become the iron capital of the world. All the tell-tale signs are there; diminishing population especially youngsters, boarded-up shops on the Main St, relative high crime stats for a town of its size and, to add insult to industry, declining fortunes at local football club Middlesbrough FC. In the midst of this though, a massive Council undertaking to transform Middlesbrough into part of the UK’s Digital City with Teeside University, location of the Hyper island Master Class, at the epicentre.

Caught in this juxtaposition between Hyper Island and the down-at-heels landscape of the Middlesbrough docks, rejuvenation and obsolescence literally came into very sharp focus for me.

I won’t bore you with the personal rejuvenation epiphanies (less beer, more gym) but a here’s a few about our industry I did ponder. Some are old, some borrowed, some are increasingly topical.

So, in no particular order, some suggestions for rejuvenating the agency model. If you tick off the list below, congrats. If you don’t tick off any, take stock.

Get a certified procurement person on staff

This is the business equivalent of eating your vegetables. You might not like it but it’s better than the alternative. If no-one at your agency is certified (or highly qualified) in the “language” of procurement, you’re increasingly screwed. Your Finance Director has their certification. Why not add Procurement certification to the Agile or SCRUM certification of your production department?

Lose the “Creative is a Department” BS

Hyper Island reminded me we’re all creative and can all contribute to any ideation session. Those agencies that still rely solely on the Creative Team and the omnipotent CD as sole “creators” are missing the point.

image002 Rejuvenation or Obsolescence. The choice is yours

Embrace Open Source creativity

Crowdsourcing is becoming more feasible, more robust as a means of unlocking true borderless creativity. To bring engaged people together to solve problems is no longer impossible. Check out GiantHydra and agencies like The Assembly to see how this gets done in the real world. Trust me, YOU don’t and can’t have all the answers.

Learn the business language of your client

This is a classic but still more the exception than the rule. Understanding what shelf velocity means to a packaged good client, ARPU means to a telco, average order size to a QSR client is critical but, too often, we delude ourselves into thinking we’re just there to be “creative”. Wrong! We’re there to impact the core drivers of their business. Surely being able to understand client-language is just commonsense.  We don’t all need MBA’s but having a few on your staff can’t hurt.

Networks built on shared values, not shared names, will win

Unpopular view perhaps but, in my experience, people work better together with folks who share a similar DNA or set of values. That often means working together with “near” competitors is more fruitful than collaborating with network peers in another office that merely has the same name on the stationery. Its not easy, its often hugely impractical (not to mention financially suicidal) but social networks work best when folks with shared values collaborate unabashedly. Networks forced together through acquisition and merger can’t compete with that.

Use our creativity to solve a really huge problem

This may run counter to my earlier client point but why don’t the wickedly smart folks in this industry join creative forces to solve a real monstrous problem? If the music industry could put ego and $$$ aside for Live Aid, why can’t the ad community? We all have a pro-bono account or two on our books. That commendable for sure. All I’m asking is why can’t we get together nationally, or even internationally, to devote time to truly enormous problem? Imagine if we each spent 10% less time drinking and “networking” at Cannes and put our collective heads together to brainstorm ideas for a worldwide issue?

Embrace life beyond advertising

This is a fun, vibrant industry full of smart, interesting people but there are millions of other fun and vibrant stimuli in the world. Love your industry, love your job but please, especially you young whipper-snappers, cultivate a balanced life outside the ad world. Your work will be better for it, your conversation (and chat-up lines) will be enhanced by it. Your life is not all about the latest work out of Weiden or MDC. It can’t b

img 15142 Rejuvenation or Obsolescence. The choice is yoursI’m sure I’ve missed dozens of other deeper issues afflicting the ad world. Industry issues that need addressing if we’re to remain relevant and vital to our clients and colleagues. What would you like to see change

Ultimately, if I learnt anything from my Middlesbrough experience this week, rejuvenation is messy and painful. But it beats obsolescence every time.

You can find out more about Hyper Island here. Check them out. They’re incredible.





  • http://www.facebook.com/presi.delcdec Presi Del Cdec

    Thanks, was very helpful and exciting to know more about these new ways of making things. I love the Giant Hydra project!
    :)


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