Last week I was in Slush Singapore and the event was awesome. It was also breath of fresh air from traditional industry events, where you usually end up when working in marketing. What was also refreshing that I had to really explain what I am doing for work as the majority of people were not familiar with the weird acronyms we have as our “brands”. Can you truly explain what you do?
When I was talking to start-ups, pretty much every single one of them was explaining how their product, innovation or service is making the world a better place. Of course everyone wants to be a unicorn and get big fat investing rounds, but that was not the first thing you heard from them. The sense of purpose was something that came across first. Therefore I had really interesting discussions there and exchanged way more cards than in typical marketing event.
When you go to advertising seminar, the dialogue goes like this:
AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$*
AD WANKER #2: ME ME ME ME GREAT WORK**
AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME GREAT WORK
AD WANKER #2: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$
AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME “INNOVATION”***
and this continues as long as there is free booze.
We are only talking about ourselves. We preach our clients how they should be consumer-centric and communicate that way, but we are not practicing what we preach. For masters of branding, we truly suck on it. To be able to make your client interesting, you have to be interesting as well.
Talking about the cobbler´s children are the worst shod.
So what is the main difference between start-up event and marketing event?
First ones are interesting and inspiring. Latter ones are just painful waste of time.
I love marketing, but our industry is standing on burning platform. The talk about changing our ways has been mostly just smoke and mirrors for majority of agencies. We have taken some buzzwords from start-up world and put it to our presentations and think that we are innovative. Current advertising is only relevant to advertisers and agencies. Advertising is not shaping popular culture anymore. Some could almost argue that we are not even part of popular culture.
Marketing is more important than ever. This was also obvious when talking with start-ups. They need help on how to break through clutter: how to be noticed, how to create memorable brand and tell interesting stories. They are in desperate need of agency expertise, but bureaucratic processes and archaic ways of working make collaboration almost impossible. Agencies are slow, the most interesting future clients are not.
Luckily it is not only gloom and doom and there are some awesome initiatives towards right direction (and luckily in firm where I am working for). Evolution does not save us, we need revolution.
* Way less money than any start-up is getting on their financing rounds.
** And that great work is categorized by fellow ad guys not the general public
**** In reality just some scam project