“Smash The Donkey Cart” – Kristian Lee - The Coverage
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“Smash The Donkey Cart” – Kristian Lee

As surprising as it may sound, people, in general, get bored easily especially living in today’s digital age. With endless options and availability of entertainment, education and information, we tend to consume content at lightning speed and as such quickly move on to the next source to keep ourselves occupied. What can only be described as a woeful attention span and short-lived bursts of exhilaration followed by a sense of wonder about when and where the next thrill is going to come from just about sums up what some of us go through every day in our personal and professional lives.

With regards to our own industry, which is the profession of advertising, I am not in denial that we are under threat from seemingly every corner with talent no longer gravitating towards us with the lure of supposedly better work-life-balance, remuneration and inspiration from other industries piling on the pressure for us to not just thrive, but simply to survive.  Advertising has lost is lustre with its people quickly losing their passion and drive for what they do daily.

There is a sense of dread about the future that is prevalent amongst folks in advertising and I would be lying if I say I don’t lose sleep while finding solutions to all the issues that hang over our heads like the proverbial guillotine.

The truth is this in my humble opinion; there is no better time to be in advertising than this day and age.  In times of turmoil and uncertainty, there have been brands that have come to represent an industry that has survived, reinvented and gone on to stick up their respective fingers at naysayers who freely announced their inevitable demise.

Consider the Yellow Pages’s transition to its current form known simply as YP in Canada and the United States. Prior to the Internet revolution, they could very well have been considered as the global market leader in local advertising. What used to be a massive thick yellow book used mostly as a paperweight or perhaps as an instrument to smack one’s spouse over the head for an alleged misstep, is now a digital sales agency for small businesses.

All this, whilst weathering an annual 10% decline in the early to late 2000’s with many writing the company’s obituary along the way.  However, a commitment towards a complete business transformation and an acceptance of their environment enabled them to take a step back, retool and advance themselves to utilise their predicament to not only survive but move forward as well. What cases like these represent are examples of how changes to our respective industries caused by societal, cultural or technological shifts can serve as opportunities and platforms of how we ourselves may change our fortunes for the better.

With that in mind, on the subject of advertising, there are so many reasons understandably to feel as if we are teetering on the brink of a six-foot deep hole. Using our own agency in Naga DDB Tribal as an example, we have admittedly felt that on occasion, however, in the past year or so we have taken it upon ourselves to embrace the challenge.

By questioning the status quo, changing and constantly evolving our business model, we have opened doors to possibilities we would not have imagined possible had circumstances in our world not transpired the way that they have done. Utilising our core asset, in the form of creativity has made us realise we have the ability if not in the short run, then in the near future to perhaps turn the agency model on its head.

As creative and business-minded individuals coupled with the adoption of technology, data, analytics and simple human intuition we are best placed to not only create great communications for brands but also to develop our own products and solutions that might help contribute towards not only a better business environment but also even to assist society in general. In many ways, this helps us to overcome the routine of everyday work and keep our focus on bigger and better things.

Whilst in some circles, advertising might be viewed as merely the donkey cart to deliver brand messages to consumers, I believe that our professionals are on the brink of serving as creators and developers of any shape and form of creative solutions generated through the power of imagination and deep human insights.

In order to make this achievable, we have to challenge what is widely accepted and promoted about the business of advertising. For those of us who do so, it isn’t hard to wake up every day and do the best we can for our clients whilst at the same time be driven in the acknowledgement that there is a larger purpose that we serve for the good of our industry. It is time for us all to view advertising in a different light and the first step is to smash that bloody proverbial donkey cart.

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