Monday, January 12, 2015

Is Advertising Really A Business, Or Is It Actually Just A Giant Game?

This is the time of year when the predictions for the future of advertising are published.

Words like integration, big data, and real-time marketing are bandied about, and it all sounds horribly serious.

Yes, advertising is a business - a serious and important one, with high stakes.

But to do it well, we may actually be better off treating it as a game.

As evidence, I'm citing a sci-fi novel called Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick.

The protagonist of this tale is highly skilled at an extremely serious activity - predicting where Lunar rebels will target missile attacks.

But the authorities use drugs and a stage-set to convince him that he is living in suburban America in 1959, a cosy existence where his only job is to enter a local newspaper competition called "Where Will The Little Green Man Be Next?"... which in reality, is predicting the missile strikes.

The key point for our purposes is that the protagonist is more effective at a serious job when he treats it as a game.

I firmly believe it's the same for ad Creatives.

My heart always sinks when the suits come in and explain that this is a really important project, and we mustn't screw it up. Or if the Client gives a speech about "how much is riding on this."

That kind of talk stifles creative people.

Because ironically, serious business success (in a creative business) is best achieved by treating it as a game.

"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct," said Carl Jung.

I love that.
Oh, by the way, I have a book out.

It's called 100 Ideas That Changed Advertising. Available in Australia, the UK, USA, and no doubt other countries that have internet or bookshops. Call to action: buy it now!


Reggie Smith said...

Sitting here working on a Sunday night on a project that should've been sold through two rounds ago, this was good to be reminded of.

Robin said...

Went to buy your book. No digital edition! What's with that?

Scamp said...

Ah. Doesn't look quite the same on the coffee table, you see.

Anonymous said...

A client once terrified me when he called me to one side just before we turned over (yes I'm that old) and said "I want this ad to be good."
Much delay ensued as I halted production to tell everyone that the shit ad we were planning to make was now off the cards. It was to be a good ad.

Adland at its best said...

It's more potent than that. It's a form of religion and has the same affect on people. It turns good people into zealots and allows them to behave badly.

The dollar is divine, the awards are the 'The Messiah' and the suited-up high priests convince them this the way. And every member of the commercial cult is convinced they're doing something holy.

A deluded, greedy world.

It's a good time to become an advertising athiest.

Power up said...

It's serious business which attracts too many immature players who treat it like a video game.

Like video games, it takes up too much time, players get disconnected with reality and become too obsessed with winning worthless prizes and high scores can be rigged with 'cheats' .

It's all fun and games, until one gets retrenched, a business fails and your mortgage is unserviced.
Those who succeed are creatives who grow up or work with partners who are grown ups.

Adland at its best said...

@Power Up


@ both of you said...

If the dollar was divine, why the fuck does everyone get paid so little?

The best people in advertising realise most of it's shit, which enables them to create campaigns universally adored by the masses and award juries.