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Two is the Loneliest Number

Posted on January 19, 2012 and read 2,303 times

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ignaciocreditpic Two is the Loneliest NumberIgnacio Oreamuno

The world might not end in 2012 as the Mayans predicted, but you don’t need an ancient calendar to see that the traditional way advertising is created, and more specifically the way ideas have traditionally been created, is quickly becoming extinct.

In the good ol’ days of advertising, the joined-at-the-hipster duo of copywriter and art director was the most efficient way to develop ideas into a campaign. Whether they were locked in an office together, in side-by-side cubicles, or sharing a table at the local coffee house, these two people were expected to change a client’s fortunes, or at least come up with something decent for the agency reel.

But in 2012, not only are we starting to see a decline in paired teams, I believe that the two-person team is about to vanish.

A campaign is no longer a campaign.

It used to be that an advertising campaign was an idea glued together by two elements, a pretty image and a catchy tagline. A campaign might include a TV spot, a magazine or newspaper ad, a little radio and some web elements, all feeding off of each other and growing in a manner that two people could handle. They could take a simple idea, add a joke and slap it across multiple media.

However, in recent years, the definition of “campaign” has changed. Nowadays a TV, print, radio and web campaign also has a big launch event, mobile apps and games to engage people on the go, social media seeding, and sometimes even package and product design, architectural elements (like store designs) and more. In a lot of cases the same ‘campaign’ is not connected via art direction or taglines, but by strategy. As such, the traditional set of specialists are no longer suited for creating the campaign of the future — or even the campaign of the present — because it is impossible for them to posses a solid knowledge of the possibilities each media holds.

Giant Hydra solves that dilemma by allowing multiple people from around the world to work together, building on each other’s creative and strategic ideas. There are only so many ideas that a traditional duo can create with their skill set, but when you bring nine or ten people together, ideas grow exponentially. In very little time, a small idea can become a gigantic idea with legs, all because those nine or ten advertising professionals bring very different expertise and experiences to the table. And they do it around the clock.

All advertising creatives have felt the ominous weight of the great white wall, that blank sheet of paper in front of them that they are ultimately responsible to fill with brilliance. In traditional creative teams, a competent partner helps to alleviate some of that pressure, but in a larger group of people, this pressure melts away and is replaced entirely by fun and camaraderie. The “mass collaboration” nature of Giant Hydra allows you to put a germ of an idea on the table, then step back and watch your peers across the world in the UK, Brazil, India, Singapore — wherever — develop that seed in a ton of different ways and add more fuel to the fire.

More people is also more fun. When I travel around the world, I’ve met a lot of HydraHeads who have revealed to me that the most inspiring projects of their careers have been with Giant Hydra, working alongside a bunch of other people. It’s strange to hear that an online environment can be so fun, but I think we can all attest to the fact that virtual worlds and communities have taken over most of our social lives, and that relationships, laughs and the joys of teamwork can be felt via digital means as intensely as within a roomful of people.

And of course, a “roomful of people” is another way that an agency could try to do more than a two-person team can accomplish. In fact, agencies do these all the time; the hapless participants derisively label these sessions “gangbangs,” and the most common outcome is a large Chinese take-out expense report. No such worries within the Hydra!

Many other industries have been transformed by the web, but advertising has resisted. I don’t think that will last much longer. As much as the advertising industry likes to think of itself as innovators, ad agencies are followers as much as anyone. As soon as the big shops… or the smart shops… or the small shops take the first trials and take the plunge into mass collaboration, everyone else will soon follow.

Either that or the Mayans will get us.

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