It’s taken me 30 years to write this. So listen up. It’s important.
The agency that’s unfortunate enough to have me as a doer of things turns the ripe old age of 30 this year.
1991 was the year. The big year that an agency was born. One that incorporated an actual philosophy, which formed a name and inspired a whole array of values. Stuff that meant, well, it meant something. Where a lot of brands get caught up and busy themselves saying nothing.
In the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and ninety-one, it was a different time. Bez could see. Shane McGowan had 17 teeth. But something pretty major also happened. The public were given the use of the World Wide Web – no, not the internet, but the thing we use to browse websites. The wwwonder of communication was rolled out to every Tom, Harry and Dick that could afford a computer. But it didn’t happen overnight. Agencies had the technology, but it wasn’t completely holistic. Nor was it encouraged, and rightly so. Pens furiously scribbled on pads, while the tunes of the day played in the background. I remember those days fondly. Ideas were the thing that happened before looking at technology.
It was a different industry back then. Golf GTIs were fast. Letraset pads were scribbled on furiously by Rotring pens. It was a carefully considered craft. Creatives knew about ink and printing techniques. Paper engineering (remember paper?) was meticulously worked out for highly engaging DM campaigns.
There were big studios full of artworkers; really talented individuals, whose sole purpose was to make the mad stuff that creatives thought up look amazing. Retouchers. People who knew their keming from their kerning. People who could turn thoughts into art. It wasn’t just Robert Maxwell that went overboard. It was creativity.
So now we’re in the futuristic landscape of 2021, with everybody and their dog wandering around staring at screens, aimlessly getting lost in Youtube, have we come a long way? In a media sense, no we haven’t.
Media channels are everywhere. And updated every nanosecond. So getting something in front of your target’s eyes becomes a digital, calculated, algorithmic undertaking. It’s a process. Is it an art? It’s certainly very complicated.
The irony, but in the same vein as it was in 1991, from the view of a creative, we have to remember to keep things as simple as we can. The complex verbose, cluttered and swamped can KISS it. You remember the mnemonic.
So before I ramble on, sitting in my black polo neck, in my M3 reminiscing about the past, I’d like to leave you with something I learned around 30 years ago. One I still adhere to.
If everyone is fighting to be heard amongst a crowd of a million, step outside the crowd, and become a crowd of 1. Then everyone won’t just hear you. They’ll listen.
One voice delivering one message.
30 years. And what have we learned? If we remember to do it like we did 30 years ago, armed with what we know now, we can totally nail it.