October 19, 2015

Disruption: The Magical Answer

When political pollsters ask people to choose their favorite candidate, the winner is very often "none of the above."

The reason for this is obvious. Real candidates have flaws, imaginary candidates are perfect.

Today, a favorite answer of clueless marketers is "none of the above."

This was driven home to me last week in an article in Ad Age about a presentation made at the ANA conference by a guy named Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo's global beverage group.

Jakeman seems to think the answer to everything is "disruption" -- the cliche of the decade, and the marketing equivalent of "none of the above."

Disruption is an outcome, not a strategy.

But people who have no strategy throw the "d" word around like the knuckleheads who want a "viral" video. Bring me some disruption!

Of course, as always, the only path to disruption is creativity.

In the world of marketing, creative thinking is the one and only engine of excellence. All the rest is chit chat.

The media landscape today is absolutely mind-blowing. Twenty-five years ago marketers would have given an arm and a leg to have these kinds of media options. But our obsession with media has blinded us to the real problem -- creative talent.

What's missing today is the application of creative thinking to the new media types. We have traded in our creative people for a bunch of data analysts, media mavens, software gurus, and jive-talking digi-maniacs.

What we are left with is an amazing array of delivery systems and nothing worth delivering.

Remarkably, Jakeman believes the "agency model" (whatever that means) hasn't changed in 25 years.
"The agency model that I grew up with largely has not changed today," 
Really? I wonder where he's been the past 25 years? Has he heard of Martin Sorrell? Or the consolidation of the agency industry into a a handful of horrible monstrosities? Or the bifurcation of the business into media agencies and creative agencies? Or the appearance of digital agencies? Has anyone told him about the Internet? I suspect that someone who fell asleep in an agency in 1990 and woke up there today wouldn't even understand the language.

On the plus side, Jakeman seems to have made some very good points about the idiocy of most digital advertising, the awfulness of consolidated, global agencies, and the cluelessness of corporate agency management.

But he struck out on the big issue.

What we need is not disruption. What we need is talent.

Where talent goes, disruption follows.

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