August 23, 2010

Leveraging Anxiety, Part 1

Part of how we advertising and marketing hacks stay employed is by keeping our clients in a constant state of anxiety about the future.

The more we can convince our clients that everything is changing around them -- and they need us to interpret the changes -- the longer we stay in business.

Consequently, every few years we come up with a new "thing that will change everything" to get them all hysterical and jumpy.

The pundits who predicted that digital technology would spawn the death of ad agencies missed this point entirely.

Digital technology isn't destroying the agency business. It's just presenting a new generation of ad and marketing hacks with a new "thing that will change everything" which they can frighten clients with and build businesses around.

The thing that makes all the hysteria so silly and unwarranted is how quickly consumers digest and adjust to "the future" and how seamlessly it arrives.

We have a vision of "the future" as a startling new thing that will confuse and disorient us. In fact, it works in quite the opposite way. Someone introduces something astounding -- a mobile phone with a touch screen that can surf the web, play video, and take photos -- and in about three weeks we're ready for something new.

Marketers are prone to assuming that technological advances are going to lead to large scale disruptions of consumer behavior. They have conferences about it every two weeks. In fact, consumers have developed a breathtaking ability to incorporate astounding technological advances into their lives without much disruption to their traditional behavior patterns.

As in every generation, there have been a few recent technological changes that have had substantial impact on consumer behavior.

Nonetheless, one of the untold stories of the digital age is the surprising degree to which consumer economic behavior has remained stable in light of a revolution in technology, communication, and media.

More about this in our next exciting chapter, "Leveraging Anxiety, Part 2." Stay tuned.

Quote Of The Day...
"A career in advertising is a lifetime on probation."  S. Krinsky

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