Photo courtesy geek philosophy.com
Well, yes and no. This is an old Buddhist quote. I have been thinking about it and how it relates to what I do now and what I will do in the future.
For a long time, advertising was designed around stars. Dots of light. Points of excitement. And then nothing. And then another dot. The problem is these days dots no longer exist. Everything is connected. Every dot is a line.
Every single piece of communication will be direct response. If it is not, it will eventually die.
The tricky part is sometimes you need a dot and sometimes you need a line. And sometimes they are the same thing.
Or, to put it another way, are we making speeches or are we having a conversation? (Courtesy of Clare one of my classmates at Hyper Island).
Advertising has been and often is a speech. Words and visuals that had to be polished to perfection. We agonise over every detail. There can be no mistakes. It is about absolute control.
This is normally a fairly linear process and can take a very long time. And I would say for many agencies and marketing departments it is still this way.
A conversation however, happens in real time and is not linear. If you planned every word of what you said at a dinner party I guarantee you would not be invited to the next one. Of course during a conversation you may say something inappropriate and a little odd. But you just fix it with your next sentence. If you are entertaining and keep moving you should get to dessert.
A great conversation is about relinquishing control. It is about exchange and trust. It is about being quick witted. Fundamentally, it is about speed.
You may say this is all a little obvious. Perhaps. However, before you do, look around. Look at the industry. How many of us are equally geared up for absolute speed and polished precision? How many organisations can change gears? How many can do both at the same time?
Simply put, advertising has been happily orbiting Earth. Now, we need to make it orbit the sun at the same time. Tricky.
This is the issue. When things move at different speeds and in different ways you cannot have a single process. As I said in a recent blog, communism cannot create Lego.
We will still need to make dots of polished brilliance. Because they start conversations. They give us something to talk about. However, doing something that’s a little rough, relevant and ready will do this too. Either way, you will have to keep the conversation going. Or, you will just have to let go and let the consumer do it for you. Or both. And let’s not forget that other word. Curation.
It would seem the next couple of years we will have many choices about how we make things. And perhaps more importantly how long they take to make. Many conversations are going to be about time. How quickly things can be done versus how well things can be done will be a reoccurring theme. And how that time will be paid for. The dots have to be joined.
We know how to build stars. Now, we will have to build what’s in the spaces between them.
And as you all know, space and time are often the same thing.