In 2008 I wrote an article called is PR the new advertising. As you can guess the title did not make everybody happy.
I had read that at the time Miley Cyrus was worth a billion dollars. Lunch boxes and DVD’s had made her brand worth a billion dollars.
I made the argument that people were becoming as powerful as brands. I made the argument that because of social media and reality television we would see the rise of what I called people brands. They would be able to do everything a brand could without ever needing one. At the time I thought I understood what I was seeing. Looking back, I know now I was just looking at the wallpaper.
In reality, the whole building was slowly sliding away.
But it did make me ask myself a simple question. These days, what is a brand? Is it a promise? Is it a navigation device? Is it a destination? Maybe a bit of entertainment? And does it have to last? It was the first time I realised that our business had to change drastically.
This week Pharrell Williams released his 24 hour music video. It has swept across the world. It is as powerful as anything a brand could do.
It does not interrupt. It is the destination. That is a lesson we have all been trying to learn.
As an industry we are very blasé about this phrase, yet it is the single biggest shift in the entire history of the advertising business.
And if you want one argument for creativity that’s it. What we do now cannot just be great advertising,it has to be great, period. These days our competition is everything and everybody. It would seem just about anything can be a successful brand. Just ask the Kardashians. Their products made 100 million dollars last year.
When you start overlaying this with what’s happening with media, the picture becomes even clearer.
I am pretty sure five years from now, kids will laugh that there were ad breaks and we would wait for our favourite TV shows. In fact, they laugh right now. Just ask Bit Torrent.
The simple truth is we are no longer in competition with ourselves anymore. We are in competition with every piece of content generated on the planet.
If that doesn’t make us as an industry realise how important creativity is nothing will.