Courtney Smith

Posted on November 18, 2010 by Courtney Smith 2

The Real Revenge of the Nerds

I read the most interesting article today in Fast Company – probably the best commentary about the state of advertising today and where the industry is headed. The story starts, captured by this excerpt:

“Thanks to the Internet and digital technology, agencies are finding that the realization of their clients’ ultimate fantasy — the ability to customize a specific message to a specific person at a specific moment — is within their grasp. It is also one very complex nightmare. After all, digital isn’t just one channel. It’s a medium that blooms thousands of other mediums.”

No big news. We all understand this. The interesting thing, as the article described, was that the oversize Mad Ave agencies – even smaller agencies scooped up by the Big 4 holding companies – understand this, preach it, and say they do it… but are scared as hell because they don’t actually understand what it means. Did I mention that the average agency person polled for this insight was a ripe old average age of 38?

It used to be agencies were paid for the perfection of the “Big Idea”. The time it spent for creative types to ponder, locked away in a room with a copywriter, to arrive to their “AHA!” moment, to be placed out to the masses in a huge media spend (of which the agency recommended, and pocketed a nice 15% of that spend.) But then came digital. Lovely digital. That scary, nebulous medium that was invented by vampires who programmed by night in their parents basements, only to now rule the kingdom with a pocket-protector encrusted throne.

Wanna know the best thing about having a ruler that was once a shy nerd?

They understand failure. They understand what it’s like to have no one get what they do and be shunned for it. And they understand the concept of experimentation, testing, recalibration as new learning happens and adjusting to accommodate changes in the landscape.

Thank you, nerds, for finally getting your revenge on the creative elitists of advertising past. There has never been a more exciting time to be in our creative problem-solving business. When great ideas can come from collaboration from the whole agency and the client, executed intelligently with an understanding of what’s possible in all mediums, and measured, adjusted, enhanced and monitored for what’s resonating and what’s not. Thank you, nerds, for making it possible to look at failure as an opportunity to learn and push ourselves to spin challenges around and look at them differently. It’s finally OK to admit that we really don’t have all the answers right now – but we can’t wait to use what we’ve learned to figure a problem out.

Please read this article in Fast Company as fast as you can… after you find some masking tape to fix your glasses, that is.

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