“And tonight something equally epoch-making is taking place. See? They're applauding the DJ. Not the music, not the musician, not the creator, but the medium. This is it. The birth of rave culture. The beatification of the beat. The dance age. This is the moment when even the white man starts dancing. Welcome to Manchester.” Tony Wilson – 24 Hour Party People.
A few years back I was pitching on a ‘Madchester’ brand and in preparation I watched the movie 24 Hour Party People, a lot. And every time I heard this quote, I always thought Tony Wilson could have been talking about us.
We love to celebrate the medium. The digital age. The social age. The technology age.
To state the bleeding obvious, ad agencies don’t just make ads anymore. Well not the good ones at least. This has been one of the loudest and most consistent themes in the ad-world for years. We make apps, create movements, inspire communities and invent stuff.
There are a lot of reasons why this is the new way of the world.
One of the reasons is people just don’t like advertising. People aren’t just ignoring advertising; they are paying not to have to see ads. By the end of 2015, the most popular app for both iPhone and android devices was an ad blocker. On Spotify, if you pay for a premium account you are saved from the torture of advertising.
In Grey’s latest Eye on Australia study, Australians told us that most advertising is forgettable. That although brands were still important in helping make a decision, advertising just can’t be trusted. I wish this was a surprise. But what would you expect. We spend the better part of five decades forcing our messaging into their homes. As brands we spend a lot of money talking about ourselves.
Does that mean advertising is dead? Hardly.
It does mean advertising doesn’t work the way it used to.
In most part, it’s because of the changing way people consume media. You can’t buy people’s attention anymore. And even if you could, most brands couldn’t afford to.
What we discovered was that advertising is only a piece of an evolving puzzle. To truly influence decision-making, brands need to garner an unfair share of the conversation. They need to find fame in their own way, amongst the people that matters most to them. Put simply, it’s time we stop writing headlines, and stand making them. Stop replaying experiences, and start creating experiences people can’t help but share.
And this is the crux of the monumental shift in our industry. Once upon a time, most brands sold products. Today, because we live in the “digital, social age of technology”, every brand is in the service business. In the business of making people’s lives better and easier.
And this is the force behind the changing nature of agencies. The reason we have an overabundance of agencies in Australia and New Zealand where neither the population nor GDP warrant it.
All these agencies, big and small, are searching for the same secret recipe.
A recipe that can deliver new forms of value for their clients. A recipe that evolves their business model into something that is both financially fruitful, creatively challenging and carries with it C-level influence.
We know the ingredients; it’s just getting the right mix is all.
And in the meantime let’s applaud the music shall we.
Grey’s 2016 Eye on Australia study interviewed 530 Australians in a nationally representative sample to explore the key communication influences of purchase, across 11 different categories.
Danish Chan is National Planning Director at Grey Group Australia