December 16, 2008
There is a custom that defies tradition, location, culture or religion.
It binds us as intelligent beings.
A custom that is not only a unifying thread but one that seems to be deeply ingrained in each and every one of us.
A custom that is totally instinctual, it permeates our character like the very cells that make up our physical bodies. Like migrant birds we naturally think of change every time our calendars reset.
This custom is a component of our primitive aptitude for survival and has been refined over many generations as our society has become more exacting and complex.
It is an impulse, a predisposed tendency that starts to ferment around the holiday season and it finally reaches its anaerobic conversion by New Years.
No matter what calendar you follow, be it the simplest of lunar positions or the most complex distinct interlocking Mayan calendric systems, you still have a start and an end to every year.
As we all take a huge collective deep breath and start our decline out of what seemed like a very long and tumultuous 2008 and head into the incline of what is a hopeful 2009 we should all tap into this custom and think about how we can all make the new year one of positive change.
The economy has always been a great catalyst for change. From the times of the famines of the bible to the Great Depression, the economy has always been a reliable agent of change regardless of how it swings.
In 2008 we were stung with some harsh realities about our perceived notions of social, political, environmental and economic sustainability and their ability to weather even the most bizarre of adversities.
It was the year that the threshold had finally given in, the world was thrown into economic uncertainty.
Politics and economics were the reality show of the year and history was made while the world watched it unfold, online.
One by one the largest financial institutions fell, the auto industry crashed and the curtain was called on the political stage. The rich were getting bailed out by the poor and the playing field was once again leveled for emerging ideas to take root.
Every single move was documented on the web by literally thousands of websites following every angle of the climate changes that took place in 2008.
In 2008 the combination of the environment, politics and the economy all played a huge role in how the web is now perceived and ultimately was more embraced as the preeminent platform in today's social and business worlds.
History is a rerun and you learn something new every time you watch.
The Great Depression was a time that can offer us some unique insight into the power of brand advertising during times of economic crisis. It represents the plowing of the field where the soil is turned for new seeds to grow.
Our own recent history has proven that during times of economic uncertainty, brands that maintain creativity and innovation in advertising during these hard times actually help to maintain the morale of the nation and come out even stronger on the upswing due to "hangin in there" and sticking with their consumers through good times and bad.
What I find personally fascinating is that the very nature of this kind of dedicated and innovative advertising during the Great Depression actually accelerated the growth of radio broadcasting and print media, today we are seeing a similar effect where the web has now been thrust into the spotlight and is the new field of advertising innovation.
The impact of the economy on our industry is more relevant than ever and we are seeing the absolute accelerated shift of both advertising and entertainment making their primary homes online.
Its difficult for me to look at things in such a negative light when so much good is coming out of these hard times. There is a concept in mysticism where the current good must be destroyed in order for a better new good to emerge.
2009 is going to be the year of that emergence.
So for 2009 my own personal business resolutions are to keep evangelizing our wonderful medium, to help educate and inform our clients as to how to best understand and use the medium to its fullest potential.
To help brands understand the value of a smaller agency that will think digitally and provide more bang for the already tight buck. To continue to help to bring innovative ideas and to push the limits of the web.
To help build better relationships and help to establish our industry as a cohesive unit and a powerful social voice that is more intelligent, responsive and community driven.
To be part of something big and help contribute to that on my own small level.
My main resolution for 2009 is to really embrace and appreciate the times I live in and acknowledge the fact that I am lucky to be a contributor to an industry that is emerging as the global social media platform.
In the words of my favorite writer Henry Miller,
“Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”
Happy New Year!