Seven months ago I left Madison Ave. For years, I preached and practiced, award-winning digital, social and direct methods with the biggest brands on earth. In the early part of 2009, while working on a new business pitch I observed a disturbing truth. Madison Avenue could not figure out how to make money (profits) at developing ideas.
The combination of antiquated customer research methods, fear, “tried and true channels” and disparate media planning groups seemed to be just a few of the issues that were quickly walking business out the door of digital, direct and advertising firms up and down the street.
A sad fact is that the once great story-selling Mad Ave firms have all become channel specialists. They had depleted their planning departments of insightful talent and replaced them with data experts and social media ninjas. Don’t get me wrong, data is very, very, very important – but the analysis and synthesis of the data by conceptual craftsmen who create relevant ideas is even more important and what seems to be lost art form.
While they were flipping channels and chasing bright shiny new digital toys, they lost the importance of relevant customer and cultural insights. Furthermore, we were now in competition with a once friendly face. The media companies. Content creators like MTV, Disney and AMC whose audience insights were vast. They also had begun producing brand campaigns for clients that delivered far more reach and relevance than that 30-second ad could produce on its own.
In 2010, one-by-one, the dominos began to fall. The market changed, the service economy retracted and marketers began asking “What’s the ROI on this agency of record relationship?”. Instead of getting the basics of what made this industry great, some had specialized so much that they had become tactical units with a VERY narrow way forward. If this scenario sounds familiar, let me know.
Over the last eight months, I have spent my time working directly with a number of big brand CMOs, big box retailers, industry journalists, VCs, data & social start-ups, media companies, politicians, employment analysts and handful of agencies that are winning new business. There is a new need and an empty seat at the strategic and creative table. It could be yours.
When the old ways begin to give way to something yet to be imagined, we have a choice. Live in the past or get down to the business of imaging the future.
-- John F. Kennedy
Today there is an enormous opportunity to not just imagine the future but also take the lead in creating the Post-Digital economy.
This blog will be dedicated to ideas, insights and people that are making artworks that address the humanization of digital technologies through interplay between digital, biological, cultural, and spiritual systems, between cyberspace and real space, between embodied media and mixed reality in social and physical communication, between high tech and high touch experiences, between visual, haptic, auditory, and kinesthetic media experiences, between virtual and augmented reality, between roots and globalization, between autoethnography and community narrative, and between web-enabled peer-produced wikiart and artworks created with alternative media through participation, interaction, and collaboration in which the role of the artist, the communicator and the agency is redefined.
There is a new exciting future on the horizon. You just need to know your customers and accept that basic behavioral observations and insights coupled with new collective art forms. Welcome to the post-digital era.