The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

I’ve Not Come This Far To Only Come This Far …

Once upon a time, there was an ad for John West – a canned food company – that said:

“It’s the fish that John West rejects that makes John West the best”.

And at our recent talk at Cannes, I quoted this from the brilliant Janis Joplin.

And yet, when I look at my industry – an industry that is quick to call out the failings of clients – we’re not really living up to that.

Now of course I appreciate we are in economically challenging times.

And I also appreciate money makes the World go round.

But the decline of our industries power and influence was going on long before this and one of the reasons was because we chased money more than standards.

Or said another way, we sold the value of creativity and cultural understanding for the illusion of importance and association.

On one hand I get it …

As an industry, we have always been paid a fraction of what some others have got, despite – arguably – doing a lot more, or at the very least, the same amount.

But our desire to be seen as a ‘corporate insider’ has destroyed our value as a ‘corporate outsider’.

Where we have the clarity to see where society is going and what they’re valuing. Where we have the objectivity to understand what are the real issues, not what companies wish them to be. Where we have the creativity to know how to connect to people in ways they may actually give a shit about.

But more and more, we are walking away from this.

Complicity is valued more than questions.
Acquiescence is valued more than a point of view.
Toxic positivity is valued more than honesty and transparency.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason for all this …

Some of our own making, some of clients making.

But for all our talk of believing in creativity … how many really are demonstrating it?

What makes it worse is the creative talent out there is arguably better than at any point in our history.

And that’s why this is not some ‘rose-tinted-looking-backwards’ bullshit – especially as there was a whole host of shit that went on back then – this is a ‘what the hell do we value’ rant.

Once upon a time I was having a bit of a hard time at work.

A lot of it was because of the issues I’ve just written.

I went home and told Jill what was going on and what I was being told when I asked questions … to which she said something that has stuck with me.

“There’s always a reason why they’re not going to do something”.

She was right.

She still is.

Despite being in the incredibly fortunate position to work with highly successful creative people who reside outside of this industry, I still love this industry.

More than that, I still believe in what this industry can do and create.

Hell, it has given me a life that is beyond anything I could have ever imagined for myself.

In fact, almost everything that is in my life is because of what

But right now it seems we’re better at talking good things than doing good things.

And so when things get worse – not just for us, but those who use/dictate to us – we better not complain about who is eating our lunch, because quite frankly, we are doing it, and have been doing it, to ourselves.

Making decisions of convenience not of standards and excitement.

A circle jerk of blinkered and blind complicity.

The good news not everyone is like this.

The even better news is it’s not too late for us all to change.

But the muscle memory may be too old for some to remember. Or worse, care.

Don’t let the financial crisis be another excuse for apathy. That didn’t get us in this mess.

We did.

We all did.

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