Ads & Mashups.
Researching my previous post a word from the 4As Transformations 2010 website blurb stood out.
For many in the ad field, “mashup” probably brings to mind dance mixes of vocals, instrumentals and samples from different styles and cultures. Or maybe Google Earth.
Here’s the current entry in Wikipedia: “The term mashup originated in web development. It is a web page or application that uses or combines data or functionality from two or many more external sources to create a new service.”
Please study that and remember it.
Marketers & Ad Agencies Stimied by Silos.
Territorial silos, top management ignorance and a lack of leadership pulling it together made the ad agency business fall apart. Here’s a recent comment from Bob Jeffrey, Chairman and Worldwide CEO of JWT, first having a “go” at marketers for their silos:
“My hope is that the recession will have been a huge wake-up call to clients with regard to that siloed mentality. It’s not only inefficient from a cost-savings perspective, but the more you collapse the silos, the more integration you drive, ultimately leading to a more effective environment in which to deliver better ideas and stronger creative output.”
Then Jeffrey hammered ad agencies too:
“[Agencies] need to know when to compete and when to collaborate. Agencies are inherently territorial, tribal and competitive, but it’s critical to take an agnostic, less ego-centric approach to collaboration, and to have a bigger view of the world and the direction in which the world is heading if agencies are to achieve the ultimate goal of making their clients successful.” (Campaign, #worldview blog).
Punk Capitalism & Breaking Down The Barriers.
In his brilliant “The Pirate’s Dilemma – how youth culture is invigorating capitalism” Matt Mason wrote “Our world today is starting to look a lot more like a punk gig (okay, maybe with slightly less spitting). The barriers to entry are being kicked down, and this new breed of fans-turned-performers, including you, is rushing the world stage. Technology is cheap; information is everywhere; the roadies are gone (who takes advice from roadies anyway?). The only thing left to do is to stop defining ourselves by the old hierarchy and run up onstage.” This is the world of search, social media and street art; of YouTube , Twitter and Mark Ecko “tagging Airforce One“.
Frans Johansson, innovation author of The Medici Effect saw how the Medicis catalyzed the Renaissance by breaking down barriers between different fields and cultures, allowing art, architecture and humanism to thrive. Think Michaelangelo and Da Vinci.
Johansson’s thesis is that knowledge about a specific field leads us to put up “associative barriers” around that knowledge. “They inhibit our ability to think broadly. We do not question assumptions as readily, we jump to conclusions faster and create barriers to alternate ways of thinking about a particular situation.” The silos develop and we lose our way.
Professor Andy Miah, editor of “Human Futures: Art In An Age Of Uncertainty” puts it like this: “We no longer need [just] specialist knowledge but trans-disciplinary creative solutions”.
The Brand Experience Mashup.
So, how does the Brand Experience Mashup become the future of the ad business? That a mashup “combines data or functionality from two or many more external sources to create a new service” is the key.
The brand communications industry isn’t working well for marketers or its own staff and shareholders. Partly because the bits don’t like working together and largely because the old-school mentality can’t unleash and re-combine the power of their disciplines, in the holding companies that control them, to change that.
Each holding company has the parts needed. They remain siloed in agency brands, with their own P&Ls and little vision beyond their omphalos. WPP tried to combine those bits and produced the ill-fated Enfatico of 2009 and the earlier Team Samsung of 2004 – an unwieldy 6 company clash of egos and territoriality which lost Samsung in under a year to Leo Burnett. A single agency.
Credit to WPP that they keep trying. The lesson is it’ll take radical restructuring, not just a Newco and corporate duct-tape, to create what’s needed.
Remixing the past won’t deliver the changes needed for brands and their communications to create real value. What is needed is a sustainable, continuous cycle of creating, hearing and responding to feedback about, and creating further brand experiences. That means, as Sean Boyle said in the video I linked to last week, “Instead of taking 8 months to do one thing, we need to do 8 things in one month!”
Full Service Agency Redux Is Not The Answer.
The Brand Experience Mashup is a new kind of service through a different organization probably bearing little resemblance to an ad agency and perhaps looking more like a professional services firm with long tails of content creators.
Corporate Mashups & Why Holding Companies Can’t.
Real progress in building value through communications for any brand will require those organizations to be corporate mashups; designed to bring all the fields together on one client-centered P&L for brand centered results. Design, media, retail, PR, digital, data analytics, promotions, sponsorship, WOM… the lot!
The focus to make this work is simply The Brand User.
Everything about brand experience must be built around real insights and true understanding from deep knowledge and ongoing interaction with brand users.
We are starting to see suggestions of how to build brand experience businesses this way. With crowdsourcing and expertsourcing, innovation and leadership and learning from professional services firms, from hackers, hip-hop and pirates.
A superior brand support industry will develop because brands need it and because free-thinking innovators, driven to find new and better ways unconstrained by current structures, will create it.
The holding companies may seem to have all the pieces but they also seem to be stuck in all the wrong configurations. It will be interesting to see if those legacy investments can be pulled apart and recombined to survive and continue to serve their shareholders.