Taking the Red Pill

I was walking through a shopping mall in Wandsworth at the weekend… well, at least, walking through a corridor where there were a few shops left…


It really just does make you realise how much capacity for consumption we’ve built into the economy over the last few years… and when one section starts to go wrong, it takes a lot with it. 

The banks take the small businesses, because they cut credit.  The small businesses, because they lay people off, take all the things that those people spent their wages on (cars, consumables, larger shops…), so all the bigger businesses suffer too. 

Then of course when the bigger businesses suffer, the people who supply services to them (of which of course the advertising industry is one) find themselves suffering a shortfall too…

Sitting in a meadja agency, naturally I keep thinking about the marketing departments at companies cutting spend. 

The people there are no longer kept as busy, working overtime to manage the massive mass-media machine, occupied with the responsibility and workload that millions and millions of traditional advertising spend demands… because the budgets have dropped.

What they suddenly have is a lot of time, and very little money, to try and make a difference to how their company communicates to the customers out in the world.  The lack of funds means they can do nothing but try and be as innovative as possible in the communications landscape.

Now, two key aspects of social media and community based communications;

i) they are very time intensive compared to ‘mass media’, as you have to be ‘present’ in the conversation with people, and…

ii) they are also comparatively cheap compared to mass media, because the cost of bringing people together has sunk so low 

Marketing departments have more time, and less money.  Social media takes more time, and less money.  It’s hardly rocket science to see where this is heading…


So what’s our role, at agencies?  Same as it ever was, to paraphrase David Byrne & Talking Heads

Help them connect their companies with people (as I talked about at the APA here).  Spotting new opportunities, having the experience in those areas to make it work, and actually getting it done.  It’s not going to be easy, and it’ll mean change on all sides.  But it’s the future, I think.

There’s no point hanging around for the time after this recession when everything goes back to the way it was… we can’t, won’t and in all honesty don’t want to return to that world, knowing what we know now.

It’s time to take the red pill, folks, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes…