“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
I recently read an interesting stat about the resurgence of vinyl. Sales have reached levels last seen in 1996. (I think somewhere around 1.3 million units). I also watched a show called Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay shouting at Americans. These two things may seem unrelated which could be a problem for this blog post. But what the hell, lets see if I can join them together.
Let’s start with Gordon Ramsay. In his show, the medicated lady that owns the restaurant microwaves everything. It’s an Italian restaurant and they don’t use a stove. There is nothing on the menu that is fresh and the meatballs look like scrotums that have been in a terrible accident. As you can imagine the food is shit, morale is terrible and they are weeks from closing.
I know it’s a cheesy formula that is the same every week. But stay with me here, what struck me were the similarities between the restaurant and how many bad advertising agencies are run today.
Let me explain. The other day I read an article about creating advertising and the phrase that stuck in my head was one simple sentence. Creative is too important to be left to the creatives. Another way of writing that sentence would be the food is too important to be left to the Chef. The owner of the restaurant tried that and ended up with bland microwave gruel.
The truth is there is a dangerous belief that creativity can come from anywhere. It’s easy to just get loads of ideas off the internet. Well, that may be true. What is far harder to do, of course, is care about those ideas. Which is the real secret. In fact, you can have a hundred ideas and they will all be meaningless unless somebody is passionate about one of them.
This is the ridiculousness of how people think creativity works. You can have as many ideas as you like. They won’t help you without belief. And more importantly, the risk of making a choice.
To use the restaurant analogy again, you can have the best cutlery, crisp white tablecloths and a magnificent degustation menu but it doesn’t mean much without somebody in the kitchen that has passion, belief and taste.
Why are we forgetting this?
Well, lets look at Vinyl. Why has it made a comeback? iTunes, Spotify and the like have made it so easy to get all the music in the world. It has never been easier to get music. Compare that to 30 years ago with people lining up around the corner overnight to buy a new album. You could argue that music has lost its value because it has become so easy to get. Owning an album was an experience now it is just a list in your pocket. It has lost its meaning. It has become a commodity. It has become a loaf of bread. Musicians don’t want that which is why more albums are being released on Vinyl. Take an album like Tommy by The Who or Exit on Main Street by the Rolling Stones. The musicians are giving us an idea and an experience. Not just a list of songs. They want it to mean something.
And, isn’t that what we all want?
Owning a song is not the same as a song belonging to you.
I am not suggesting vinyl is going to replace downloads for a second. That ship has sailed to a sweaty deep house club in Ibiza.
What I do think however is that speed, access and delivery mean very little without meaning. And meaning, will always come from a powerful experience or a great product. Right now, we are in a world obsessed with speed rather than quality. In fact, I think many in our business think it is exactly the same thing. Beware of thinking the generic can replace the personal. It doesn’t. And never will.
Perhaps, what I am saying is that in a world of endless lists to scroll down, crowdsourcing and curation we want to feel like somebody actually gave a shit when they made that special thing for us. And when you feel that, it makes that meal, idea or song better. And those are the moments you remember.
This is true for great ideas, Italian food and making a memorable album.
After all is said and done, we don’t remember the speed, the efficiency or packaging if there is nothing special at the end.
Sometimes, I think we forget, nobody remembers the frame, only the picture.
Sometimes, I think we forget, we only remember one thing.