Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Siberian Dilemma.


< I just read Kurt Campbell's blog in the NY Times and in it he talks about something called the Siberian Dilemma. Here's how Campbell describes that dilemma:
"The fishermen of northernmost Russia go out onto the frozen lakes of Siberia in temperatures at times approaching 60 degrees below zero centigrade to fill their catch. They know from experience that the biggest fish congregate at the center of lakes where the ice is the thinnest. They slowly make their way out across the ice listening carefully for the telltale signs of cracking. If a fisherman is unlucky enough to fall through the ice into the freezing water, he is confronted immediately with what is known as the Siberian dilemma. If he pulls himself out of the water onto the ice, his body will freeze immediately in the atmosphere and the fisherman will die of shock. If, however, he chooses to take his chances in the water, the fisherman will inevitably perish of hypothermia. Such is the stark choice presented by the Siberian dilemma."

Somehow, and I'm not exactly sure how, the Siberian Dilemma reminds me of the plight so many agencies face today. Do they stay in the hypothermic water of the status quo, or do they pull themselves out and perhaps die of shock. This is not to say that agencies today face only a Hobson's choice--but most agencies today seem not to make any choices at all, that is they are letting the future happen to them rather than inventing it. And that is a sure way of either dieing of shock or freezing to death.

1 comment:

T said...

A dilemma was always whether to make great ads or to make an easy partner. it may seem that the two shouldn't be contradictions. But as we know all too well they often are. Really great work stands out partly because it may be new. Which makes it hard to pre-test. It's also harder to sell in work that is not familiar. the hardest sell may not be to the person or persons that are the immediate clients. The ad guys on the client side can't defend the work internally. And so, most agencies had to start to compromise to survive, and certainly in order to grow. Servicing became just that. In that process we also lot a lot of integrity as experts in our fields. We became SUPPLIERS of "ideas" and the executions of them. We become factories. Big businesses. And now everybody is wondering what happened. We made ourselves interchangeable.
Sure, there are a few stubborn ones out there. They're actually doing well know. While the ones who compromised have become weaker and vulnerable, if still big agency brands. So, the playing field is totally open again. This is a situation, a place in time, that rarely happens. It could be that we are in fact witnessing a paradigm shift. The old agencies must not only remake themselves from the inside out, they have to recharge their brands. A new generation of clients has lost respect for what the big establishment stand for.
The first big agency that dares to totally revamp could very well be a huge winner. Instead of tweaking. I wonder when one of the big holding companies will actually try to use one of their shops for such an experiment?
I have plenty of ideas on how this could happen, but I'm afraid nobody will listen.