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The labors of Heracles


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I am sure that you will agree with me that, with the economic crisis on the one hand and the digital revolution on the other, every advertising professional has the right to feel like a HERO. Therefore I will use the greatest hero of the past as an example for the future.

Published in: Business, Career

The labors of Heracles

  1. THE LABORS OF HERACLES What the Advertisng industry has to do in order to change. tris Klonos Direction by DimiIllustration &Art dimitrisklon
  2. With the economiccrisis on the one handand the digital revolutionon the other, everyadvertising professionalhas the right to feel like aHERO
  3. CROSSROADS PRODUCTLike Heracles, advertising has been caught at a crossroads: One pathleads to being a craft that offers a communication product that is SERVICEcharged based on the value that it creates. The other leads to being aprofessional service that offers consultation to clients and its charged VALUEbased on a cost plus basis.Like Heracles, our industry has to choose not the path that seemseasier, but the path that will ensure a greater share of the future. But COST+even more important than choosing right, is choosing. Our industryhas been trapped on the same crossroads for a long time and thisparalysis stops us from moving forward.
  4. DIGITAL HYDRAThe first monster that comes in our way is the multi-headed Digital TWITTERHydra. Each head is a different monster fully equipped with tech- GOOGLE+nological jaws ready to devour the trust our clients have on our ca- OK FACEBOpabilities. And as soon as we understand how to cut one head, twonew heads spring from the monster’s neck. The Media proliferation BLOGINGcaused by the digitalization of our world is reversing the communi-cation order and now everybody is both a sender and a receiver. So- SEOcial networking sites are convening communities of consumer advo-cates and replacing traditional information sources. Consumers nowknow more, communicate more and can be persuaded less. Now thateverybody has become a sender and a receiver, we need to under-stand audience behavior, earn their attention and draw them into ourbrand story. Commercial communication has become a conversationand brands, rather than orators, have become moderators.Heracles burned the monster’s neck in order to stop the heads frommultiplying. Our flame should be fuelled not by the understanding of N LINKEDIthe emerging technologies but by the understanding of the emergingcultural practices that those technologies create.
  5. aUgean stablesCleaning the Augean Stables. A labor that was indeed, labor inten-sive. Brings to my mind our everyday reality. So many new deliverysystems, formats, screens and experiences available to us to deliverthe brand story. The consequence is that creative output is increas-ing exponentially in quantity. Where we used to produce 30-secondformats, we now have to think in terms of websites, blogs, e-webs,digital radio, and SMS conversations, social media on the web, streetevents, PR, and a whole array of new communications opportunities.The amount of work that is asked from an agency has rose exponen-tially. More content produced in more different ways should result inmore fees to conceive it all. However, with the unbundling of servicesand the commoditization of our work, the trend is rather the oppo-site. Clients want more but they are willing to pay less.Heracles was aided by two rivers in order to clean the stables, weshould stand united and stop dumbing our prices united in order toclean this mess.
  6. mares of diomedesIn this Labor beasts of burden were turned into carnivores and ourhero had to tame them in order to stop them. Sometimes what isthere to serve us turns against us. The notion of the “Big Idea” whichwas nurtured in the era of Media scarcity can become a burden in theera of Media abundance. When a bunch of “Small Ideas” can create a“Long Tail” of effective communication.Our business model is adherent to the past and hinders our effortsto adapt to the new reality. The latest innovation to our way of work-ing is dates back to 1968 when Steven King and Stanley Pollitt intro-duced Account Planning. Hercules had to feed the mares of Diome-des with the flesh of their owner in order to tame them. We shouldfeed the structure of our industry with our egos in order to satisfy thestrategic priorities of our era.
  7. SHAREHOLDERSCerberusCerberus was the 3-headed guard dog of the underworld. It remindsme of the 3 masters that every professional in our industry has toserve: Shareholders, Clients and Employees. Each head has a will ofits own and bites you for a different reason. Shareholders for revenue,in an industry that revenue is at the very least unpredictable. Cli-ents for results, when results are hindered by their own interventionsand employees for empowerment, in an industry that power is not EMPLOYESalways accompanied by responsibility. Heracles managed to controlCerberus by dragging him into the light. Light should be shed in ourindustry too. CLIENTS
  8. τhe hero’s journeyNot every Labor had the same importance in our Hero’s journey; In my experience 70% of our time and effort goes to operation.likewise, every labor doesn’t have the same importance for the future The majority of our time and effort goes into what we have to do andof our industry. not in what we must do in order to gain a greater share of the future. We are operation centric instead of innovation centric. And it is theWe can classify the labors in two axes: on the vertical axis we have definition of insanity to expect different results by doing the samelabors of a Tactical nature and labors of Strategic nature and on the thing over and over again. Like Heracles we have to clean the Augeanhorizontal axis we have labors of internal nature whose completion Stables but we are not going to be remembered for that.affects the agency and labors of external nature whose completionaffects the agency’s clients. The two axes define 4 quadrants, andeach quadrant plays a role in our industry’s evolution much like theway the labors played a role in our hero’s journey towardsapotheosis. CULTURE, INNOVATION, OPERATIONand CONTROL.
  9. WHY?I challenge you, as I challenge myself everydayto devote a bigger portion of your time and effort in laborsother than cleaning stables, a hero has to slay monstersin order to remain a hero.
  10. CHILD MURDERERHeracles, blinded by hubris and drunk from wine murdered his chil-dren and Zeus ordered him to accomplish the labors in order to re-deem himself. Let’s face it our industry doesn’t attract the best mindsanymore. Technologists, consultants, and in some occasions, evenour own clients have beat us in the race for talent. We don’t attract,but more importantly we don’t develop our talent pool with the pacethat the era demands. We don’t train our people and we have failed tocreate the intellectual barriers that will keep our offering from beingcommoditized.
  11. (HEra)clesThe Queen of the Gods, Herahaunted Heracles. Like him wehave to understand thatwhat haunts us is what makesus who we are. Change is ourlifeblood, stagnation our deathknell. The only goal of our pro-fession was, is, and always will beto turn “what if ” into “what is.”