When I first started in advertising, the industry was at the tail end of a very classical period. Projects would often take over a year, and the deliverables were primarily magazine ads and television commercials.
Anything on the Internet was considered a geeky experiment and not to be trusted. I joined Twitter during its first year, and I remember suggesting using it for a campaign. I was roundly laughed out of the room for my naivety. The same thing happened with proposing a campaign that would work entirely on Facebook.
Refresh your browser to today, when Twitter and Facebook have become a core consideration on every single advertising brief. Gone are the year-long concepting grinds. Replaced by a new kind of fluid client-agency partnership that takes incredible collaboration to meet the ever quickening deadlines. The process is often chaotic during the making of these things, but when the dust settles, we have projects that everyone takes pride in.
I think the model for advertising used to model the process cycle of filmmaking and the fine arts. But as technology has tipped into mainstream ubiquity, the advertising model I find myself operating in is closer to developing, programming and hacking. It’s our job to bring as much taste and aesthetics to this process, but you need to shift your mind into a perpetual beta state to keep up. The rules of the digital landscape are being written on a daily basis, so there can be seismic shifts mid-production, or even after launch. If you don’t find a way to cope with that new reality, you’ll go mad, and your projects will never be realized.
I find myself creating ‘theories’ more than concepts these days. While I always start from a core idea, I try to keep my mind loose, to be receptive to a range of executional options. I also try to use as many digital platforms and tools as possible, so that I constantly know where the edges of the playing field are.
It’s impossible to predict where tomorrow’s innovation will take us. All we can do is stay fluid and adapt. All we can do is be water, my friend. We can’t predict the future, but we can be smart about building a mobile foundation that will be able to react and take advantage of this constantly evolving digital landscape.
1. Space (“You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.”)
2. Time (“It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.”)
3. Time (“Giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original,” and learning to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision.)
4. Confidence (“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”)
5. Humor (“The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.”)"