I began my thought leadership/writing career with a column on Mediapost and so it is fitting to return to the scene of the crime so to speak for a new weekly column on all things Innovation.
My primary focus will be on technology-led innovation, which is about as wide and deep as the blue ocean (digital, social, mobile, emerging, startups etc), but I hope to also dial into true originality, disruptive thinking and creative flair as it relates to the ability to tell stories, surprise and delight (some might call it classic advertising...or at least my good friend Don would)
Mediapost were very kind to write up this piece, which outlines my return to weekly thought leadership columns and also gives a pretty good update on my update so to speak.
And so without further ado, my first piece which is a context setter/manifesto of sorts, outlining why now has never been as good a time to be focusing on the convergence between Madison Avenue and Mountain View...
Survival demands Innovation and Creativity
A war is being waged.
Its crusaders are the passionate pioneers that represent a new marketing reality never seen before in history. This is the story of the evolution of the Internet -- and its progression from a superficial flavor of the month to quite possibly, the most profound weapon ever presented to the treasure-chest of the marketing community.
The war in question is a war against ignorance and those who resist change. It is being fought on two playing fields, by two very different armies. Their insignias are the head and the heart. Progress has been varied.
The infantry of the head, earmarked by research, data, metrics and media has emerged victorious.
The warriors of the heart, however, have not fared as well. Along the way, there have been many casualties, but when the dust settled, the brave and the dedicated creative community stood firm, supremely focused on their prime directive: to win the battle for the heart.
I wrote that blurb in 2004 when I put together a roadshow called “The Battle for the HeArt”. You’ll notice that I capitalized the A in Heart, as this was about art; the right brain; creativity…or the lack thereof in the online space. My position was that online was dominated by science; the left brain; analytics; metrics.
And in the vacuum, was an infinite void of desolate inspiration.
Battle for the HeArt was a Creative Roadshow, designed to celebrate, uplift and showcase the best online creative you’d never seen or perhaps had, but you couldn’t quite articulate or put your finger on exactly what made it unique or special.
The show lasted two years and save for the fact I founded my first company, crayon, it would have continued. Interestingly enough, 2006’s Battle (the third year) would have been sub-branded as Madison + Mountain View (I even registered the URL www.madisonandmountainview.com, with a positioning that the future of advertising lay in technology.)
It’s kind of sad and even pathetic that we’re asking the same questions today. We're questioning the lack of creativity and innovation in the online space. It’s not too late for an intervention though, but I fear that soon enough, it will be unless we inject a good dose of truly game-changing digital whoopass into the mix.
My antidote is the intersection of technology and advertising; Mountain View meets Madison Avenue. I’ll use Albert Einstein's famous quote to illustrate my point: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
Dictionary.com defines creativity as “productive originality.”
Originality = Doing things Differently
Productive = Getting a Result
“Doing things differently to get a result” is, in fact, the exact opposite of doing the same thing over and over again to get a different result. So it hit me: Creativity is the solution to insanity; the remedy to mediocrity and status quo.
Similarly, the dictionary defines innovation as new approaches that achieve positive outcomes. Is it coincidence that this is a synonym for creativity? I think not.
I think this underscores that the future of marketing is a digital one, a tech-laden one. Brands have got to innovate in order to evolve and arguably, survive. I believe that the intersection between marketing and start-ups is one way to mix together creativity and innovation into a powerful cocktail.
The catch perhaps is that innovation is typically associated with product or packaging R&D, as opposed to marketing itself. It’s time to change that.
I always like to quote photographer Diane Arbus who said: “It's what I've never seen before that I recognize."
Our consumers are the same. They ignore what they’ve seen before time and time again. And they notice the unanticipated. They crave the unexpected, the unpredictable, the surprise and delight. They long for the intellectual sparring that comes with an idea that provokes, irks, challenges or dares them to think or act different.
And they’re not insane, although we might be if we don’t rethink the way we go to market, or the way we utilize the full potential of the Internet and its social portfolio of gizmos and gadgets. The way we partner with our consumers -- and the way we combine what we do best (creativity) in a form, function and utility-laded service that truly delivers transformational (innovation) value.