B'Gatsby's Editorial Retweet. Again.
What follows is an editorial piece that a powerful creative agency CXO on Madison Avenue published a few years ago for one of the trade pubs. Recently the CXO tweaked it and republished it, based on his own personal POV that it was just as cool now as when he originally published it years back.
In other words, he liked it.
A relatively cynical reader of ours sent it to us upon its return to the public debate and asked us to publish it with a few of his "remixes." See below. The reader made a few edits to the original essay. The "I's", "we's" and "them's" were replaced with "he's, his's and him's." After reading it both ways, the remixed "me" version sounds a lot more accurate that way. Plus, it protects the guilty CXO from the accusation that he was plagiarizing himself!
In essence, the CXO's realization was that he was not in advertising. He was in "Creation Industries" where the focus was all about creating something new; not rehashing the same old stuff. Though ironically, that's exactly what he did here... and we think, it shows.
The rich are different than you and me. [FSF]
- The Editors
"He was recently reminded of his first media seminar more than 18 years ago. It was there that he first discovered something astounding. He found out that he worked in a service industry.
What a freaking bummer. [his]
Over the next 18 years, on a personal level he dismissed the notion that he was part of the service industry. He began to build his model and his philosophies around the idea that he was in manufacturing instead. A philosophy that suggested that his "ultimate job" was to produce great marketing products. Notice he thought "ultimate job", hmmm... because along the way that was certainly elements of service to what he would do.
And he was not the kind of revolutionary who wanted to do away with account service people. Without them brilliant account people, there would only be chaos. And many of the best ad people he knew - some of his best friends - worked in that department. And at his agency, everyone, account people included, believed that if was possible to succeed at the service yet ultimately fail to deliver the marketing that can do the job. If this was true, then he couldn't be in the service industry. Great account people, media people, planners and production people deserved and took as much ownership of the marketing product as any person in the creative department did. [And it was good for morale to say so.]
At a more recent media seminar he had somehow decided that he deserved an award for innovation. Well, as usual, he had won an award for something that he didn't really see himself as an expert in. So, the first thing he did was to look up the definition of innovation.
Def. The act of introducing something new. [his]
The word "new" exploded off the page for him. Because new was not something people wanted or expected from a member of the service industry. What he wanted from his travel agent was to book the destination he wanted and the hotels he wanted and that would be it.
Don't screw it up. [his]
For years, because he was able to push his message on a consumer that had few options and even less control, he got by with this erroneous idea that he was in the service industry. It wasn't important to create new and innovative products if he could simply force people to see them. So if he agreed that the products really didn't matter then what did?
Service. A good meeting. A good golf game. A nice limo and dinner. [his]
What was good work is debatable. But the process for making something new and innovative was not. It was done by people who were smart, passionate and educated in their field. They worked long enough and hard enough to find a path that was new and fresh.
It was not done by giving up in the name of good service. [his]
"Hey, it's not going to work but he did a good job because this is what his client wanted." Bulls--t. His clients wanted brilliant marketing. And by surrendering his expertise over the years the industry created an advertising culture that didn't know how to operate when the end goal was to make something new.
Then he felt like he was in a bit of a pickle. Because the product mattered more than ever, and believe it or not, it would probably become even more important in the future.
It wasn't about creative. It was about every aspect of what he did. It's about creating an industry culture that was capable of introducing new ideas into the marketplace.
So if he wasn't in the service industry (because he couldn't if he expected to succeed), then which industry was he in?
The Manufacturing Industry? [his]
Although pretending to be in manufacturing at his agency, was a handy exercise for him to change his own behavior, that couldn't really be it. Too much, in fact, pretty much all of what he did was custom made. He didn't have assembly lines. And he wasn't expected to do something new and different every few years. He expected to do it every day on every project that went out the door. His associates created thousands of new products a year. He attempted to tap into and perhaps even change pop culture hundreds of times a year. And he could create and stimulate and maintain dozens of brands a year. Still every day that went by he was happier that the manufacturing model has been his focus. Today so much of what he did was a more literal translation of factory. He built sites and apps and e-commerce and bike kiosks and rental platforms, etc, etc.
Unless he'd been living under a copy of Ogilvy on Advertising lately he noticed with a combination of curiosity, and perhaps dread, that every day what he did was becoming more like the movie and television business. For some, the lines had already blurred between what he did and the publishing business. And if he was on the cutting edge he found himself spending time harnessing games, industrial design, architecture and interactive apps to help build his clients' businesses.
It was no coincidence that he found himself spending more and more time in these disciplines. These were his brother professions. He was sharing a common industry. Advertising, movies, music, television, publishing, architecture, industrial design and graphic design.
He realized he was a part of the Creation Industries. And it really wasn't limited to the list of industries above. The above did it full time but no matter what business he was in today, he felt he was expected to create a way of doing business that his consumers built into their lives.
The market forces created by the rapid demise of mass media and traditional media models had made the real business he was in clearer than ever. He was in the business of leading his clients in creating new ideas and even mediums so compelling and entertaining that his consumers searched them out. These ideas couldn't be familiar. These ideas wouldn't be comfortable. These ideas wouldn't be obvious. And these ideas would not feel or look much like advertising.
Brilliance would be more powerful than ever, and yet everything from above average on down became invisible. Produce ordinary ideas and nobody would even see them. Great clients expected great marketing partners; the same things he expected from the other creation industries. He thought, "Create something so funny, charming, or useful that who wouldn't want to live without it?" So more and more he was finding himself working on - with and without question - competing with his brother creation professions to introduce ideas new enough to grab even a few moments of his audience's finite attention. And only the very best would be rewarded.
It was actually quaint to merely think about brands or marketing today. The marketing and the product are colliding and pretty much every web2.0 offer illustrated this. The media was the message had gone into a digital blender and then came out: The media, the company and the community are the message.
The service model worked when basically anything he did created awareness, because mass media was once able to deliver huge audiences. And so wine cellars, golf club memberships and nights out on the town were the differentiators between good and mediocre agencies.
Good news for the next generation of disrupters. That golf stuff wouldn't cut it anymore. [his]
Bad news for him when he golfed to avoid disruption, he pondered; as he pared the 18th. [ours]