There are always two ways of looking at things. The Circle https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/sep/19/the-circle-is-it-the-perfect-dating-show-for-2018-or-reality-tvs-nadiris surely the most depressing programme to come into our homes for a decade. Or is it? Maybe it’s the cleverest, quickly uncovering the lengths we go to to be ‘liked; and how quickly we evaluate the truth. Or the lack of it. Not only that, it smartly taps into the power of the second screen as the traditional audience attention turns away from television and moves toward mobile devices and social media who chat about the content they are watching. Look, here I am writing about it.
Anyway, it’s made me think about evaluation and how our work is judged these days as data is evaluated and process is king. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for more clues about what is going on but not when it supersedes the big idea as it so often does. Does data makes us more cautious? It may seem obvious but making smart choices these days marks out the winner. Choosing an interpretation is all we can do and it’s not a perfect process by any means, because it brings along with it our bias and historical perspective, and then it’s a minefield using that data to bravely conceive new and compelling stories and content — in all formats — video and mobile ad/content experiences and make them work.
And here’s the thing these days. Data challenges the mindset, our attitudes, values, judgments, opinions and habitual behaviour. With the speed and complexity of today’s landscape, we all have to be able to turn and change direction on a dime ( I refrained from using the word ‘pivot’ deliberately) In marketing alone (at the last count) there was a minimum of 100 channels — from TV and press to direct mail and social networks — from digital advertising to influencer marketing, from trade shows to vlogging and let’s not forget good old word of mouth. There’s even a fashionable term for it all — the ‘Omnichannel’.
Unchallenged data risks formulaic ideas and these serve no one. Clients who already think they know what they want based on their data (worse when they think they do and don’t) invariably end up with mediocrity. Who was it that said “you get the PR you deserve? Process driven businesses often spend hours in dull and unsatisfying meetings, make overly persuasive arguments and then demand rationally argued cocktails of alternative propositions. The end result is almost always stale. It may feel safe, because it resembles something that’s already in mind or down in the data but the resulting derivative work is unlikely to engage anyone beyond the first glance. No inspiration or change. No relationship, no delight. Just a march to the sameness tune.
So I urge leaders to be braver, have more perspective and to choose people to work with who will take them further than they imagined when they made their initial evaluation. Let’s all leap before we look and then see where we end up.