September 23, 2010

Analyzing Everything And Understanding Nothing

Sometime in the near future, advertising pundits will look back at the current era and reach the conclusion that we blew it.

They'll say we were focused on everything but the problem.

We had dashboards and metrics and click-throughs and webisodes and branded entertainment and a whole galaxy of new and used media outlets...but what we didn't have was very good advertising.

It seems silly to have to say this, but our industry has reached a point of such grotesque confusion that I'm going to say it anyway -- the business of the advertising business is advertising.

If the advertising isn't very good, what difference does the rest of it make?

We analyze everything and understand nothing.

We have forgotten that some of the best advertising ideas weren't the result of algorithms and analyses. They were the result of someone sitting on the toilet with a yellow pad and coming up with a great idea.

I'm not advocating throwing caution to the wind and doing whatever the hell sounds like fun, but I am saying that we need to temper our arrogant belief in our analytical abilities with the realization that there is a great deal about how advertising works that is about imagination, not facts.

Our clients may think they want dashboards and data, but what they really need is ideas.

The longer we stay focused on gee-whiz technologies and media gimmicks while our creative work languishes, the more our value to our clients will erode.

With all the startling innovations in communication, technology, and media, one would think that creative innovation would follow as a natural offshoot. But it hasn't. Creativity doesn't work that way. It has its own timetable and its own mind.       .

Let's not forget why we're here.

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