This is the column I wrote for Amsterdam Ad Blog today:
I have to admit. Lately I have an obsession. It’s a bit of a nerdy obsession. It’s about defining the agency of the future. Maybe this doesn’t sound dead sexy at first glance, but bear with me for a moment. In return I’ll promise you this will lead to excitement and I’ll throw in some relationship advice in as a bonus. But let’s first get back to the nerdy part. The part I’m diving into is defining the agency of the future. The more I am getting into that, the more I am convinced that the agency’s biggest challenge is not about understanding online or social media. The biggest challenge is a fundamental reboot of the way we define the concept of ideas. I think it’s unbelievable – and maybe even unforgiveable – that in the advertising business we seem to make everything we do important and big, but in the end we never truly rethink the essence of our ideas. To honestly ask ourselves if maybe a different type of ideas is needed to actually become measurably important in driving conversions. The large part of the business is still about the holy grail of finding the big idea. That one and only idea that can be campaigned 360 degrees – including social media and online, mind you! I think 360’s make you dizzy. And sick. Sick is not good. It makes you look greenish and, yes face it, unattractive.
In the advertising business we seem to make everything we do important and big, but in the end we never truly rethink the essence of our ideas
But seriously…what makes you a brand fan? What makes you buy them, tell your friends about them, refer them? For me this rarely is a big idea. For me it’s the daily experiences that count. But let’s keep it simple and do a little metaphoric exercise. After all I have promised you some sexiness. And nothing gets the sex in easier than the good old metaphor. So, let me start by asking you this: what is the relationship that gets you excited the most? Is it the guy – sorry straight guys for the example, just fill in girl whenever you feel it’s appropriate – that ensures you the big events, like the first kiss, a wedding, buying a house together, the birth of a child, but who is actually quite a bore? Or is it the guy that surprises you with little unexpected things that wins you over instead? Just to give some relationship advice. I would opt for the last. Blindly. ‘Cause how many big events in life are there anyway? You can’t build your life happiness on that. It’s the little moments of happiness throughout your life that make it worthwhile. And I think we all actually long for that exciting, dedicated lover instead of the predictable, indifferent husband.
To get back to advertising. I think that we as agencies are in the business of building relationships with consumers. So all the insights, communication models and research aside, as advertising agencies we need to get down to that essential business. Very simple. And for that we need to be able to get down to the business of developing ideas that spark excitement on a daily basis. And that’s not about the big ideas or solely the communication ideas. I simply want a product by how the packaging looks, the way I get positively treated by customer services, the way a shop makes me feel, the personal touches or the way a product is designed. I am a sucker for eye for detail. For twists that put a smile on my face. For little acts of kindness. I can add it all up to a – now publicly admitted – heavy addiction to smart ideas. Ideas that are designed to spark excitement. And these are the ideas that I want to share with you here on a regular basis.
We need to be able to get down to the business of developing ideas that spark excitement on a daily basis. And that’s not about the big ideas
I’m convinced agencies shouldn’t reinvent themselves by introducing yet another model, concept or online expertise. It’s about becoming fascinated by design for excitement and sweating the small stuff. It’s about turning creativity into business advantage for brands on a daily basis. It’s about understanding the skill set of the lover. I’m so bored with the perfect husbands. Aren’t you?