What better time than the turn of the year, to do a bit of contortion?
Looking back and forward at the same time.
Here's something that I think does that perfectly:
In mid 2006 Martin Sorrell wrote an informed analysis in the Times about managing the digital revolution.
With six months maturation in the cellar of time, I think's it's as important today as then.
Perhaps more so, for any brand who hasn't taken heed yet:
He draws some interesting parallels with the advent of Television advertising 50 years ago, and indeed advertising's 'discomfort' with emerging online oportunities.
I think it's an article every Marketing Director and Creative Director should read.
Because it illustrates some of the problems and dilemma's faced by today's ad bosses and brand owners.
And offers some very helpful insights:
How to make sense of it all. How best to proceed. How to separate the bullshit from the brilliance.
He states that it's proved hard for traditional organisations, comfortable with established techniques, to embrace the new.
Citing an age gap, a knowledge gap and vocabulary gap as barriers to many.
And indeed, this is the only key area where I take any real exception to his arguments.
I don't see it as an age gap thing at all, but a mindset thing.
Indeed, most of the smartest commentators and embracers of Web 2.0 that I know, (in the marketing and advertising world's I hasten to add) are over 35. (As, incidentally, are most MySpace users.)
They know what traditional rules to break and more importantly which to stick to. (I'm thinking the importance of creativity over technique, core idea, adherence to brief, production values, longevity of idea etc. Important limitations User Generated Media/ads rarely trouble themselves to conform to.)
As for knowledge, these can be fixed by anybody who's prepared to shimmy up the required learning curve, by, for instance; reading the right, well informed, blogs for their sector regularly. (But this can be a slippery slope, and does bring in that oft cited issue of ad agency/media buyer/marketing department complacency, procrastination and laziness. A big and important subject, but something for a post of it's own methinks.)
As for the new language of the web, Sorrell identifies quite rightly, that there's a huge dissonance in the vocabulary of online marketing and traditional ad agencies/brand marketers.
A kind of digital Tower of Babel, where quite different languages are being spoken, often to the detriment of what I would suggest is brand progress and profitability.
Which is why I think he's also right on the money when he suggests that the language barrier will gradually be lowered, and interpreters will thrive.
But it'll take trust, a willingness to experiment, and a 'show me don't tell me' mentoring.