November 07, 2016

The Opposite Of Data

You don't need an MBA to figure out that most of the really big marketing successes of our time did not come from data analysis or business models or strategy briefs or professional marketers. They came from daydreamers with a hunch:
  • Steve Jobs
  • Walt Disney
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Mark Zuckerberg
The list could go on for weeks.

The advertising industry -- whose only important asset is ideas -- has learned nothing from this. We keep heading in the wrong direction.  We hire more and more math majors. Then we take the people who are supposed to be our idea people and give them banners to do by 3 o'clock.

We need to rethink the whole idea of what we mean by "creative department."

We don't need more people who are tech-savvy or analytical. We need some brains-in-a-bottle who have no responsibility other than to sit in a corner and feed us crazy ideas.

Just a cursory look at the output of most agencies and marketing companies will convince anyone that primarily what we are producing is different versions of the same things.

I am not suggesting for a moment that the development of big ideas is easy or can be formularized. Nor am I suggesting that data is not important. Nor am I suggesting that having information thwarts creativity. What I am suggesting is that creativity is being subsumed by our obsession with data.

Big ideas are a by-product. They don't come from briefs and assignments. They don't come from trying to have a big idea. They come indirectly from staring off into space.

Ad agencies and marketing departments need daydreamers. Does that mean we are going to produce the next Jobs or the next Rowling? Not likely. But that's not the point.

Our industry is drowning in math and starving for ideas. We need people who can dream shit up. We need impractical, illogical people.

We have plenty of data. We need some more of the opposite.

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