So says John Condon, the new Chief Creative Officer at Leo Burnett.
He sounds a little like Dan Wieden, as quoted here in November
it turns out — thank God — that the idea is king. At the end of the day, one individual with one good idea can trump an entire network of thousands who don’t have an idea.
Is this the new model? Is the ad industry saying, "We don’t make ads, we make ideas"?
Bully! It’s about time. The rise of the new consumers, new channels, new media indicate has badly damaged the old business model. The ad world has found another value proposition.
But horrors! The "idea" formula leaves the ad business without a difference.
Lots of people can supply ideas, and lots of people do, strategists, consultants, brain stormers among them. What’s more, idea production is being democratized in the hell of a hurry. Even little blogs like this one presume to show where ideas come from. There are lots and lots of players in the creativity game. (And now that BusinessWeek has declared that we’ve left the knowledge economy for the creative economy, there will soon be plenty more. )
I can’t help feeling that the better proposition for Madison Avenue is "we make meanings." The fuller statement: advertising builds brands and brand proposition through the careful, clever assembly of cultural meanings. We source these meanings from every corner of contemporary culture. We invest the brand, or the brand proposition, with meaning through the judicious choice and combination of sound, image, language, and media (i.e., advertising, point of sale, direct marketing, on-line advertising, consumer co-creation. etc.)
In the meanings game, the ad world has few competitors. There are the design firms There are the creators of the various forms of contemporary culture (music, film, journalism) who sometimes "sub in." But almost no one has the depth or the range an agency does. More important, the meanings game makes the ad biz absolutely bullet proof when it comes to the Google challenge. Google can wrangle information. It is clueless and clumsy when it comes to meanings.
But what I like best about the meanings value proposition is that it allows the advertising world to take its true skills, its real accomplishments with it as it enters the new world of new media.
There is some small evidence of panic in the agency world, as if some now believe that "everything they know is wrong" and that the agency world must reinvent itself in every detail.
Oh, please. No one in the world of business understands the process of meaning management as an agency does. It would be a pity, no, a tragedy, if this great strength got lost in the stampede to new models.
Ideas are quite wonderful. We would be poor, mere beasts without them. But in the world of marketing (to say nothing of the creative economy), ideas matter because they are the way we manage meanings.
McCracken, Grant. 2005. The Idea is king (if sometimes Charles I). This blog sits at… November 9, 2005. here.
McCracken, Grant. 2005. Google versus Madison Avenue: no contest here. This blog sits at … November 1, 2005. here.
Vranica, Suzanne. 2005. Questions for … John Condon. Wall Street Journal. December 14, 2005, p. B3A. (no url available)
The image is Leo Burnett.