Friday, August 9, 2013


150 years ago, restaurants and hotels would advertise, usually in gleaming electric lights, that they were "electrified."

75 years ago, movie theaters would proudly proclaim that they were "air-cooled," and later "air-conditioned."

If you travel the exurbs--or more likely through America's inner sprawl--you can still see signs out in front of cheap hotels that advertise C O L O R  T V.

These were new and disruptive technologies and therefore provided early adopters with a leveragable business advantage. But of course, that leveragable business advantage quickly became commoditized. When everyone does it, you no longer have a selling point.

In short, being first is a business advantage.

But it's nothing more than a temporal one, unless you're always first.

Apple is dealing with this today.

Their previously un-wilted rose is looking a bit droopy these days.

As they say in Hollywood, "What have you done lately."

All that said, as a culture, we currently prize the latest blockbuster above all things.

New is considered better than good.

We prize innovation (no matter how spurious its efficacy) above intrinsic value. Everything, in other words, has become "fashionized." The latest is, by definition, the greatest.

Of course, this compulsive quest for newness introduces a 1950s concept to marketing communications. Our communications are created with obsolescence planned in. In other words, they're planned not to endure.

To my mind that's why approximately 90% of all agency hours are billed on creating things that are immaterial, esoteric, a distraction or a toy.

Very few focus on our real job. To communicate. To clarify. To make simple. To define, demonstrate and disseminate. Or in the words of Carl Ally: "To impart useful consumer information in an executionally brilliant way."

We have as an industry lost our way.

In chasing nothing but new, we are chasing our tails.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Exactly. perhaps the reason one digital agency has adopted a unicorn as its new logo.