February 9, 2009
The nature of a recession typically is to help reset an economy that has gone awry and to help reestablish the momentum and processes that may have caused things to have taken a turn for the worse. This can be due to either rapid growth, corruption, lack of standards, loss of focus or differences within an industry that may strangle its progress.
Our industry, the interactive industry, is no different than any other.
Because of the pace we travel at, interactive professionals, tend to go through the hills and valleys more often than most. There is constant turn over, talent shortages and surges, new technologies to adopt to and trends that change per second.
The results are typically a more refined crop of professionals that are seasoned and nimble enough to take things to the next level and meet the demands of the never ending web.
Ab incunabulis to ad finem (from the cradle to the end) we explore and engage everything we get our hands on and like survivors on an island we are trained to look into every crevice and corner for new ideas and trends in order to survive.
Survival of the fittest in its most primitive form in the most advanced technical age ever.
The onset of most niches within an industry can sometimes be a bit of a free for all. When something new and exciting is unleashed into a ravenous world it can sometimes be over hyped and in many cases over valued.
This is a trapping that can blind many business owners and professionals into thinking that what it is that they are offering is some sort of cure for the woes of the world.
The Internet sets all kinds of unrealistic expectations that on some level do manage to be met on a daily basis, however after meeting each expectation another even greater one is waiting at the gates.
This is no business for a simple mind and someone who needs a calm and peaceful atmosphere. It is the chaotic world of the creative mind that can thrive in such a tumultuous landscape. To remain human while keeping the pace with the every changing trends in design and technology.
Many of the digital shops in our industry have enjoyed a rapid growth based on the novelty of many of the new trends we uncover and expose to clients and the public who are less digitally inclined.
However the pace of the maturation of the industry renders those novelties less impressive within days of their release. What this does is create a very unstable face value for the services we offer our clients.
Loading up on interns and junior talent is a way for smaller shops to keep salaries down and to infuse a youthful energy into the work that is being created, however it also perpetuates the vicious cycle that we tend to get trapped in.
That trap being lack of leadership, maturity and understanding. The elements that will hopefully help stabilize this industry and help form a solid foundation based on real strategy and ideas formulated to last.
With a stable creative and technology core and a leadership group of seasoned veterans who have been doing this from the very beginning, clients can be assured that they are communicating the right messages and that they are getting the most bang for their ad buck.
And not just some fly by night trend that will cause everyone to take three steps back every time we take one almost cool step forward.
We live in uncertain times. Things do not stop progressing and in many cases they accelerate during these times. However, there always seems to be a settling period.
The point in time when over inflated expectations come crashing to the ground and the humble and truly creative come crawling out from the ashes to help clean up the mess.
We seem to be embarking on this period now and while the smaller shops and larger agencies all compete for the same work it will be the real hybrids who come out victorious.
Kind of like Superman who is defeated by the very rock that formed his home planet, us ad folks sometimes become enchanted with our own poison.
We can sometimes becomes so caught up in nonsense and over hype that we fail to see the shaky ground that is under us.
This explains why there seems to be a renaissance of the old guard that helped start this industry coming back to reestablish its foundation. With a mixture of traditional creative know-how and a craftsman approach to introducing new technologies, without flooding the trend radar with over hyped copy-catting and pounding round pegs into square holes.
It is like a virtual Shaolin Temple of Flash masters who first saw this medium as a means to tell more engaging stories, people like Vas Sloutchevsky, Samuel Wan, Marc Stricklin, Chris Andrade, Gabriel Mulzer, Brian Limond, Pete Barr-Watson, Mickey Stretton, Josh Levine, Jessica Spiegel, Hoss Gifford, Manuel Tan, Amit Pitaru, Ross Mawdsley, Erik Natzke, Joshua Davis, Eric Jordan, Yugo Nakamura, Brendan Dawes, Adam Phillips, Billy Bussey, Anthony Eden, Aral Balkan, Moses Gunesch, Keith Peters, Colin Moock and many others who knew very early on that interactive multimedia was so much more than an over hyped and really technical mathematical and physics platform.
No one knew that it could very well be the demise of the traditional ad agency. But those early masters did see it as a new tool that if fully understood and integrated into the ad world, could change the landscape of communications forever.
So now we stand at a new frontier.
Everyone is stepping over the hill and we are collectively trying to figure out how to ascend the mountain that stands before us. Traditional is still holding the reigns but the grip is not as tight. Digital is frothing at the mouth waiting for the opportunity to take those reigns and lead the big brands to the top of that mountain.
We all struggle with various aspects of the business where the digital artisans and the number crunching traditionals all need to see eye to eye and communicate for the sake of the clients.
We need to have a moral and an ethical responsibility to step out from behind the curtain and to work side by side with our clients. This is accomplished by educating them in what we do and listening better to how they want us to help them communicate their messages without getting tangled up in the entrapping of trends and regurgitated ideas.
We need to address the economic crisis and figure out a way for everyone to come out successful and by doing this our young industry will thrive by us establishing a unified and glorious foundation.