18 Jun 2011

Why Advertising - like everything else - needs a 'reboot'

It was Albert Einstein who said, "we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

Umair Haque, on his Harward Business Review blog, puts it into a more modern context... He looks at the futility of looking for a mere "recovery" from the on-going downturn in the global financial markets. He calls for a more fundamental rethink... socially, culturally, ethically and economically.

In Advertising & Marketing too... teams (on both sides of the table) far too often hang onto The-Way-It's-Always-Done method as if the 'status quo' is itself a business objective.

The odd iphone app or facebook phenomenon notwithstanding, it is painfully obvious that most marketers - no matter how badly their brand needs a rethink - still prefer the 'familiar', the same 'tired (it's not a typo) and tested' approaches to a whole new set of problems.

Ad Agencies for their part, often tax their grey cells no further than to come up with a cheaper way to continue the same formulaic approach! Talk about shooting oneself in the foot... Now there's less incentive, more pressure and no result.

Among the compelling arguments Umair Haque makes, one is especially strong: What if what we need to seek isn't merely "more" prosperity, but meaningfully better prosperity? The economy's just a tool. It's time to question not just it's "how." but it's "why." Why do we have an economy in the first place?

Advertising is a tool too. It is time for some really deep introspection and fundamental assessment of what our job really is... It means changing the question from "How do I earn" my retainer to "Why do I earn it?"

Let's reboot the system and start all over...

Umair Haque is Director of the Havas Media Lab and author of The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business. And he has many more brilliant posts on HBR.

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