Greetings from New York.
Yep, you heard right. Contagious has officially launched Stateside. We're thrilled to announce our New York office will be headed by the very able Nick Parish, formerly of Advertising Age and Creativity magazine, who will assume the role of North American Editor. In addition to contributing to our magazine and website he will represent Contagious at US conferences and events, as well as working on bespoke projects and trend briefings for our new consultancy service, Contagious INSIDER.
With this in mind, we've asked Nick to introduce himself with some thoughts on the State of the (Advertising) Nation. Take it away, Nick.
Most of you reading this are in daily concert with colleagues on multiple continents, and, it's fair to say, in tune with what's going on. So it doesn't make much sense to present a 'state of the marketing biz in America' note. It's not likely that different from where you are.
Yes, green shoots are pushing through the economic wreckage, but there's a more tangible, permanent concern. It's something smart people like yourselves are tasked with, and were probably thinking about long before this latest turbulence began: how do creative and innovative ideas move beyond taglines to develop cultural changes?
We all wonder, where do they come from? What brought this about? How can I have one? The success of seemingly simple, startup ideas, from social media platforms to best-selling apps, have only further exacerbated the hunger for a popular breakthrough, and, at very least, a marketing effort connecting people to ideas in ways mass-media enormity used to.
The line between marketing and technology is blurring, and the differences between entrepreneurs working solo and those inside larger corporations are smaller than ever.
Smart agencies have successfully spun off side businesses, or developed client ideas into self-sustaining organisms to pursue these big little ideas. Some have even begun aping the tech world's incubators and R&D labs
to try and churn out startup-caliber ideas (see Contagious Issue 22
for more on those).
But there's more to it than setting up a romper room of coders and letting them come up with crazy solutions, sometimes applying them to client problems, hoping, afterwards, they might wind up becoming a new revenue stream.
Last week, serial entrepreneur and former CTO of Hewlett-Packard Imaging and Printing Antonio Rodriguez
told a room full of hackers at the annual conference for Python programmers that the false dichotomy between business and technology had to go, and the next breed of successful web startup would have every employee touching the code.
Wizened digital veterans have now seen two bubbles burst, and realise we're at a turning point: one where everyone must understand how the company is changing in order to excel. Yes, many siloed agency and client behaviors make this difficult, but 'Oh, those guys? I have no idea what they're up to' is no longer an acceptable response.
You don't need to go stocking the office with O'Reilly Media
's code-writing spellbooks and switch to Linux
; marketing has yet to fully morph into the 'making things for the Internet' business (but it will).
The important unity is between the figures Claude Levi-Strauss
called the bricoleur and the engineer, the MacGyver
and the Sherlock Holmes
. The practical and theoretical must come together.
As Nathan Martin
, CEO of Deeplocal
who helped birth Chalkbot (developed for Nike alongside Wieden + Kennedy) said in Issue 21, 'we must use the viewpoint of the amateur to solve our problems.' Deeplocal calls it guttertech.
While we persuade, entertain and offer useful things and build brand stories; now we must do all these while calling on organisational strengths to think and act outwardly in order to make a dent in networked culture. As BBH Labs
' managing partner Mel Exon
put it, 'when technology has enabled 'company culture' to exist outside of four square walls, knowledge to be shared instantly, timezone differences used to increase not hinder corporate efficiency, etc--isn't it time we start really living the dream of the networked enterprise? Empowering small, autonomous, nimble teams to go out and source the next solution?' (http://bbh-labs.com/the-economies-of-small
The salient point here is the autonomy of individual team members is stronger than ever, and each must be called into service of the group internally and externally. The notion of an agency network, from the antiquated idea of dozens of loosely connected global offices, will change to measure reach and response strength, resilience and the power of each node.
We'll continue to comb the far reaches to keep our little corner of your mindspace stocked with inspiration and thought-provoking new concepts.
I've known Contagious as the place for the freshest outlook on cutting-edge marketing and will dig deep into this corner of the globe to find standout examples of next-generation creative culture and bring them to you.
In the US? Want to talk to Contagious? Email
to say hello.