Lately I've found many an interesting post about the industry in London, just over two years after The Saturn Return Project touched down to dig into the same subject.
This article, "Time to get over advertising's 'Golden Age'" by Arif Haq in Contagious, is one of them. Haq ponders the gap between the great work being produced in the British market (yes, there is indeed some great work still being made) and weak work, with very little being recognized in between.
Since Saturn launched, the conversation around industry change has shifted away from the media (i.e. "digital media" or "social media") that made the initial splash, toward the technology, which is what continues to shift and morph at a rate the industry cannot (and never will be able to) keep pace with.
"This mindset of the ‘golden age’ of British advertising – when clients weren’t allowed on the creative floor (let alone ask for a more than one creative response to choose from) is misguided," Haq writes. "It’s a rose-tinted vision that ignores the fact that we’re currently in the grip of the greatest period of technological disruption since television was invented. We should we cut ourselves some slack."
It's true. It is a rose-tinted vision and it is entirely rearview mirror-facing (as I discussed here). We need to stop looking back, stop comparing, stop longing for the relative 'ease' of the Mad Men era and face the realities of today. Be present, look forward and embrace the incredible era that we are living and working in now; it's possibilities and opportunities for not only brands, but for individuals as well.
The idea and argument (which I fear far too many are hanging on to out of confusion, desperation or stubborn unwillingness to accept change) that the industry needs a chance to catch up (comparing itself to the 40 years it took to master television) doesn't work, however. Not in today's world. Waiting to catch up means missing the boat. We can acknowledge where we are at, and award and applaud appropriately, as Haq says, but we cannot wait until we get it, or the sand and dust settle and the vision becomes clear. Because that won't ever happen. This is, as they say, the new normal. Adapt, change, learn and grow or... well... find a new job.
"The complexity of the modern communications task means that it takes more planning smarts and creative skill to produce a successful campaign today than it did before the invention of the internet, social media and mobile phones," Haq says.He encourages us as an industry to recognize this disparity and recognize the best of today's work with a different lens.
Interesting that we are having the same conversations, with a slightly different twist, two years later.