I’m on a bus. Every once in awhile I get it in me to write some lengthy diatribe on a subject. Normally several drinks have entered my system at such time, yet today, being under the weather, with no scotch, and on an iPhone, I’ll keep it short.
Today, let’s briefly talk about the impact of the “like” button. At the F8 conference, Zuckerburg Announced an expansion of the function, now allowing your own verbs and nouns. I find this to be rather silly, taking the novel, but powerful meme to ridiculous heights. But, if you stop the cynical nature the Internet hones in us daily, you will find that Facebook may yet again redefine our behavior.
For the last 50 years or so, Nielsen, the de facto resource for gathering research on our television habits has had a lucrative business using the most general of research tactics. It’s a ~5 billion dollar business. If Facebook decided to dip its toes in TV, using their silly “like” feature, for segments of an episode…. A funny moment if you will, that general research turns into razor sharp laser targets on what’s working. What’s grabbing our attention. Oh, and the segmentation is no longer a broad stroke demographic, it’s each of us as individuals. Couple that with social behavior like tweeting about said moments, and the research data is infinitely richer. Suddenly, Nielsen looks like it developed acne and gained a few hundred pounds.
Oh look, the king is dead. Long live the king.
Sweep the leg.
I’ve found in my travels that I’ve forgotten some important simple lessons I’ve learned over the years. I met a new friend recently who’s reminded me of common sense you just grow into the more you’re exposed to the collaborative world we live in. To the point: it’s that networking makes the world go round.
It’s hard to believe that such a simple notion should ever be forgotten, but sometimes in the throes of the politics of a difficult environment, one becomes blinded by the day to day with defensive maneuvers. This friend has recently completed filming a short film. A collaborative effort for sure. Filmed on a tight budget, one finds ways to get the job done. He described how a community of his friends and acquaintances have helped him along the way. In particular something that caught my attention is that now that filming and editing is complete and he’s in post, he’s recruited the help of a friend who does finishing (color correction, etc) professionally. Having worked in post production, I know first hand how much post production artists and companies charge. They run well upwards of $10,000 a day given a certain level of skill. A personal project like this, my friend couldn’t afford such astronomical prices. Having friends gets the job done.
I’ve done my job a long time now. Doing great work, both personal and professional requires a certain level of sacrifice to see the finish line. Budgets are tight, time is always constrained for this reason or another; you have to pull in favors or bleed a good portion of your soul to open the next door. In my latest trials and tribulations I’ve found myself becoming more introverted and have slowly but surely crafted my workflow to solely depend on myself. This was not a conscience effort, but a defensive mechanism for several reasons that aren’t quite fit for this forum. As it happens, I’m the only person who has had my back. So this was a natural progression. Yet building the walls that keep certain issues at bay, I’ve come to realize, cloud some lessons you learn throughout your career and life. Sometimes simple conversation outside of yourself will remind you of such lessons.
One of those lessons is keeping every avenue open. To put it in tangible terms, as a martial artist I believe in never committing to one style. It hamstrings you. It closes you off from the opportunity of thinking differently. Believing differently. Or simply being open to something new. Closing yourself off from the world, or closing certain doors, because of a few bad seeds you may come across will only make your world harder.
Most times, those bad seeds may not be bad at all, they just may have good intentions that they can’t see through. Doing everything yourself may bring you certainty of your exact direction, but it will close you off from the opportunity of the spontaneous. It will close you off from the help and lighter load friends will bring to you if you let them. The conversation I had today in my current state left me with this thought in some ass-backward fashion: trim the bad, keep the good, stay nimble, do it with a smile, and stay open.
I’ve found the power of #inaction is as powerful as the power of doing. Both personally and professionally, the act of not acting has proven to be dire in almost every circumstance I’ve experienced. A good friend of mine in the ad business once said to the world, “Your great idea has already been done.” As pessimistic as this sounds, more times than not, it’s happening as your thinking of it. We all have the same tools and choices. The same opportunity. We all know the quote: “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook..” Jump on it.
This doesn’t just apply to business opportunities. If you let a wound fester, it gets worse. Any type of wound. Morale for instance. Or a relationship. A half flat tire. A culture. It will all catch up to you eventually, and the consequence of not dealing with shifts in the spectrum of life will be worse than the original thing that needed attention in the first place. Issues compound. They transform into something else entirely, and lead you further from the resolution that would pull you from the quicksand that is swallowing you. There’s a quote floating around the Tumblr of late: “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible” - Zappa. I find this to be poignant on many levels. It’s inherently built into this silly saying I’ve been using for years: “Resist Comfort”. I try to live by it. It’s incredibly difficult in practice. My friend Cesar does a good job of it in his own way.
Let’s get back to the point though. Life has hit me hard of late. Internally and externally. The harder it hits, the more that quote slaps truth across my face. Change something. Do something. If it won’t improve, at the very least it will change. It’s peculiar that it’s shark week right now for me. If a shark stops moving, it can’t pass oxygen through its gills. It will die. Forward momentum. Always change position. Active energy - momentum; it has a funny way of disappearing without feeding the beast. It can be the success of your business, the state of your mind, or the temple that is your body. When you neglect to act, it all falls apart.
Over my last several years of huge agency life, I’ve come to learn there’s only a few types of creatives out there: the doers, the thinkers, and the posers. The doers for all intents and purposes are production artist in most cases. The thinkers can’t make anything, but are highly concept driven and think of things the doers can make. And the posers, well, they’re good at climbing corporate ladders with smoke and mirrors and are generally worthless. I think it’s high time to introduce a relatively new creative to the masses: the world dominators.
The world dominator can think of an idea, and make it happen, with or without help. They don’t need to steal ideas from smarter people, and they’re technically skilled enough to A) know what they’re talking about and B) can throw down when it needs to get done.
I come from small agency and post production land, where everyone wears a bunch of hats, sharpens their skill sets so they don’t fall by the way side, and gets shit done. People who live there are great problem solvers and vary on conceptual strength. Some are content to just make. They hone their craft to an extent that they’re hired by WETA or PIXAR or North Kingdom and make “teh awesome”. Others who live there do the same thing to a lesser degree, but their ADD kicks in and they start staring at the butterflies out of the window, dreaming up ideas they wish they had time to make. I believe I fell into the latter category, and that’s how I found myself moving over big agency side.
Now when I began moving over to giant shops, I found that my advanced technical skill set, set me back. It made me a “doer”. I say set me back because I’m a big thinker, who just happens to know how to “do”. It turns out, the bigger the agency, and the less you know how to do something, the further you get. “Retarded” is probably the nicest word I can think of to describe that notion. It must have been thought up by a really clever poser so he could flourish in a world of better peers.
In a time where the world is literally changing on a daily basis, nevermind the industry, it’s the hybrid who should take the helm and drive the future. People who are ridiculously strong conceptually, and know how to make things. You should know my thoughts on integrated thinking by now, and those who could realize those ideas will be the “World Dominators”. So go buy a 5D Mark II. Learn how to frame a shot. Take a creative writing course. Learn some code. Start a Tumblr. Explore color theory. Do some figure study. Sit under a tree and think up worlds you can create. Then go make them.
I’ve never seen the value in the segregation of traditional vs digital. From my perspective, isn’t it about the story? The idea? An idea in its purest form, distilled from hours of discussion, or a moment’s genius, to be delivered in whatever mediums make the most sense?
People ask me, “Are you a digital creative?”. My instant gut reaction internally is to say, “You’re a tool…” …but if I think about it, is it truly so wrong to ask that? The industry has evolved in such a way that most people can’t comprehend the notion of being “just a creative”…unless they do TV and print. Who’s to blame them for the ingrained upbringing? Digital used to be a dirty word, used by the traditional folks to label something they didn’t quite understand, nor really saw the value in, so logically talked down to anyone deemed such. As the times change, and people begin to realize the digital ocean they’re living in on their small traditional islands, “digital” now means you’re part of the cool kids club. So now there’s this class of folks who think (rightfully so) they’re the hottest thing since the Power Glove.
It’s not so much the power struggle between these two factions that you should focus on IMHO. It’s how we’re going to reconcile they’re part of the same empire. TV…print…social…interwebs….Al Gore… whatever… Everything is a device to say something. To communicate an idea. They all don’t speak the same way, but they’re all great at saying something, somehow. All of these vehicles can be used in conjunction with one another, and they should be! Because like the Power Glove, the hottest thing gets tired quick, especially in this world of over consumption and instant communication.
There’s a deﬁnite learning curve to become ﬂuent in digital, and that rabbit hole goes far and deep, but once you grasp it, your canvas expands for miles and miles. Couple that with the reach power you get writing scripts for that ultra polished 30 second story that airs with that media buy, and boom goes the dynamite. And it’s fun! Why limit yourself to thinking solely in ones and zeroes or scripts and roughcuts when you can just DO BOTH? When I take on a brief, I won’t even entertain the notion of thinking solely in one medium, personally or with teams presenting to me. The faster we stop silo-ing ourselves into “this ﬁrst” and “that second”, or even “both at the same time” (just not together), the faster world domination and unicorns come. And hey, with luck, maybe your next campaign will involve something more interesting than your TV spot on a Facebook tab with augmented reality to a tweet about a link to your TV spot on YouTube.
Advertising is going through a fundamental change. Social sites, blogs, status updates as media outlets. The world has decentralized how it consumes content and in doing so, advertising is in an era of re-invention. That’s not to say the old ways are irrelevant. Broadcast, radio and print will always remain staples of the advertising portfolio, but new tactics must be used in response to the new landscape.
Remember when advertising was as simple as:
TV + Print + OOH + PR +/- Radio + Website = Campaign
Now, in the new era of advertising:
Creative at the speed of culture is the merging of all formulas and the creation of new ones. The rules are as dynamic as the audience and the ideas need to be equally engaging. What is your formula?