Most guys who came up in advertising in the 1970s and 1980s, and are lucky enough to have not drunk, smoked or drugged themselves into an early grave, spend a lot of time trying to find business that fits the way they did things when they were operating at peak efficiency back then. Let’s call them Old Ad Guys.
But as time has passed and the digital world that formed in the 1990s continues to expand, these opportunities grow fewer and farther between. But a lot of these Old Ad Guys view the communications business with jaundiced eyes, believing that the business is like a big wheel that is slowly turning and that everything old will someday be new again. And that their formidable skills will once again be very much in demand, in pretty much the same media as always.
Not My Vision…Not Even Close
Unlike most Old Ad Guys I have not been waiting for the Great Wheel Of The Communications Business to come full circle and create the Valhalla where all my old school skills will once again be back in style.
The reason I’m not waiting for that to happen is simple. I don’t believe it is going to happen.
What I do believe and what it took me a lot of time to accept is that that particular wheel has gone flat. It’s sitting there pushing down gravel at the side of the some dirt road that has been lost in time. And you know what…nobody’s coming to fix it, because somebody with a 3D printer stole a design from the Internet and created a brand new wheel. And this wheel, while turning slowly, is turning nonetheless and moving Communications into the future.
Jump On Or Be Stranded In The Past
I happened to notice this about a year ago, and like most Old Ad Guys who are addicted to the way things used to be and how wonderful they were, I saw the new wheel as nothing but a threat and rebelled against it.
What I didn’t realize was that I actually knew what was going on and was subconsciously going through a period of withdrawal and grief over the loss of my old comfy wheel. In retrospect I realized that this is only natural for anybody trying to kick an addiction.
I wrote a lot of stuff extolling the virtues of the Old Way Of Doing Things that was was all about ideas and persuasion and tried and true media. I wrote a lot of stuff that was the equivalent of a warning flare. “Beware of the future…it’s nothing like the past”. But what I was really doing was working my way through to an understanding of the New Reality Of Things.
Advertising, as I grew up with it, is not dying. But it’s also not growing either. It just is. It’s a part of the landscape that I really don’t get to walk through much anymore, because I don’t work in a big advertising agency. Nor do I really want to. Nor do I want to attempt to re-create one.
The New Reality Of Things is that the Internet has changed people on a fundamental level. It has made people much more savvy as consumers. They are much less susceptible to the lure of big idea advertising, because they are much more aware of the hyperbolic spin that advertisers put on a product to make it look, feel and sound wonderful.
These people are searching for the truth. And they are doing it in ways that will help them find it, because the Internet provides them with enough differing points of view for them to fashion the version of reality that works for them. Unlike big advertising which, well, doesn’t really provide any sense of reality at all, because it’s essentially selling a dream.
My New Reality
Today, after countless conversations and debates with people who know what the New Reality Of Things really looks like, I am no longer an Old Ad Guy. I am no longer waiting for the great wheel to come back around. I am on the new wheel, and am finding that my Old Ad Guy skills serve me well there.
I am a Hybrid. I use the past to facilitate learning how to deal with the present and anticipate the future. I have always been a solid communicator, so this is not difficult for me to adapt to. What was difficult was accepting The New Reality Of Things in the first place.
But I have, and now, instead of hanging in there waiting for something that is never coming. I am seizing the day in a whole new way. I am on the same learning curve as we all are, working to spot innovations and maybe even come up with one or two of our own. And learning how to communicate effectively within the The New Reality Of Things. It is exhilarating to say the least.
I create & implement strategically focused
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who appreciate solid creative thinking & value reasonable rates.
Ode Jim Murray Creative Director
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