Time for true radicals


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We all know we're living in a period of massive, accelerating change. Yet how we think, how we work and what we produce as an advertising industry has changed remarkably little. This talk at the ICA in Toronto is a (hopefully practical) call for the industry to reclaim its progressive, and truly radical, roots.

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Time for true radicals

  1. 1. A Time For True RadicalsGareth KayChief Strategy Officer, Associate PartnerGoodby, Silverstein and Partners, San Francisco
  2. 2. Why radical?
  3. 3. Professional Radicals
  4. 4. radical (adj.)thoroughgoing or extreme, especially asregards change from accepted or traditionalforms: a radical change in the policy of acompany.favoring drastic political, economic, orsocial reforms: radical ideas; radical andanarchistic ideologues. Source: Merriam-Webster
  5. 5. radical (adj.)of or going to the root or origin;fundamental: a radical difference Source: Merriam-Webster
  6. 6. Let us be in no doubt,it’s time to be radical
  7. 7. What we’re doing isn’t working “In most cateogries, a brand’s market share is stationary” Brands in 4 out of 5 categories seen as increasingly homogenous Less than 1 in 10 ads seen as different 3 x $ spent on price cutting compared to brand building in CPGSource: Andrew Ehrenberg; Copernicus Consulting; McKinsey
  8. 8. We’re less valued by clients 1 out of 4 clients don’t believe what we do boosts corporate profitability 3 out of 5 clients think we don’t offer good value for money 2 out of 5 think we don’t work well in a team 1 in 10 think we are doing a good job in evolving our services for the digital ageSource: IPA/ISBA; CMO Council 2010
  9. 9. We’re finding it hard to find and retain the best talent Not just low starting salaries but ‘low degree of difficulty’ Spend less on training and development per person than Starbucks spend on their baristas Less than 1 in 2 employees believe their agency is committed to continuous developmentSource: AAAA
  10. 10. Yet, our response seems to be this
  11. 11. 6 (hopefully helpful) thoughtsTODAY
  12. 12. “Being realistic isthe most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” - Will Smith
  13. 13. 1Let’s think aboutwhat we can create,not just what ourmuscle memorytells us to make
  14. 14. “Here’s the TV ad,now what’s the problem?”
  15. 15. “The task of any imaginative agency, any creative company, is to understand and serve its client’s business problem. Too often, our business has sliced and diced its tasks in the style of a sub- prime mortgage bundler. A corporate task set by the chief executive, reframed as a comms task by the marketing director, refined by the brand consultancy and reduced by the ad agency to thestuff advertising can do: grow awareness, nurture engagement. Too many links, too indirect and weak a connection between commercial possibilities and creative resolution.” - Laurence Green, Founding Partner of 101
  16. 16. “The further backwardyou can look, the farther forward you can see.” - Winston Churchill
  17. 17. Let’s stop defining ourself by output and start defining ourself by outcome
  18. 18. Let’s be rewardedfor good behavior
  19. 19. hack (n.) the most ingenious and effective solution to a problemSource: Merriam-Webster
  20. 20. 2 Stop thinking our work exists in a vacuum
  21. 21. Why is our referencealmost exclusively other ads?
  22. 22. The reality is what wemake exists in culture
  23. 23. “Creative firms of all kinds(including ours) know thatthey must evolve at LEAST as fast as the world is changing around them” - Tom Kelley, IDEO
  24. 24. While culture has changedmassively in the last 60 years,we’ve been massively dumb
  25. 25. Digital ideas orideas for a digital world?
  26. 26. “Advertising can’t have a future if it continues living in the past.” - Steve Henry
  27. 27. Effective ideas demand we create our own culture of continual re-invention
  28. 28. 3 No more narcissism
  29. 29. We are narcissists.
  30. 30. We create fake ‘movements’ forthings people don’t care about
  31. 31. “Often our biggest mistakeis believing that, in general, customers care a lot about your brand. They do not. ” - Patrick Barwise
  32. 32. “Nobody reads advertising. People read what they want to read and sometimes it’s an ad.” - Howard Luck Gossage
  33. 33. We need to understand what people are interestedin and work back from there
  34. 34. Build bridges
  35. 35. “We’ve moved from adownloading culture toan uploading culture.” - Charles Vallance
  36. 36. We need to get better at designing for gaps
  37. 37. Put people at the heart of everything we do
  38. 38. 4Get out ofthe messagingbusiness
  39. 39. Ideas that do
  40. 40. Stop communicating aproduct and start makingcommunication products
  41. 41. 5 Break the tyranny of big
  42. 42. The bigger, the better
  43. 43. The biggest ideas disappear
  44. 44. "Square is elegant. The users flowthrough payment or application has beenreduced to the fewest possible steps; theapp has minimal features. He espouses atremendously attractive belief that goodindustrial design wins customers trust bydisappearing."
  45. 45. What if we thought smallerabout the things we make?
  46. 46. What if we stitched smaller ideas togther to create a long idea?
  47. 47. Google Books Blogspot Youtube Google Google Google Scholar 411 Search Google Docs Organize the world’s information Google and make it Shopping universally accessible and Google useful. labs Chrome Browser Google Maps Google.org Google sketch Fossil fuel ChallengeSource: John Grant, ‘The Brand Innovation Manifesto’
  48. 48. “Like any company we require aprofit to stay in business. But it is not the reason we are in business. Thething that has not changed from day one is the desire to make people think about the world we live in. This is, and always will be, why we are in business.” Dave Hieatt
  49. 49. Photo:  Andrew  Hovells  (aka  Northern  Planner)
  50. 50. Photo:  Andrew  Hovells  (aka  Northern  Planner)
  51. 51. Think small
  52. 52. 6 Let’s start learning again
  53. 53. ‘From suck to non-suck’ Pixar
  54. 54. Eradicate the pointless quest for perfection
  55. 55. “The show doesn’t go onbecause it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11.30” Lorne Michaels
  56. 56. Minimum viable product
  57. 57. Source: Albion London
  58. 58. Source: Albion London
  59. 59. Communications R&D
  60. 60. 70/20/10
  61. 61. Build a culture ofexperimentation
  62. 62. “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less” - Gen. Eric Shinseki
  63. 63. Thank you for listening@garethkgplus.to/garethk
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