Creepinâ anâ a crawlinâ to better work. | DMA

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Creepinâ anâ a crawlinâ to better work.


Over 400 million years ago, one of the longest evolutionary arms races known to man kicked off all over the world. With no end in sight, the battle for supremacy between flowering plants and the insect world created a co-evolvement that may go some way to explaining the dearth of creativity that proliferates advertising and marketing today.

When life was simpler, 500 million years ago simpler, arthropods stumbled out of the water on to a land where plant life was mostly moss. After 100 million years of bumbling about, the arthropods had evolved and diversified into an array of critters, including insects.

The moss started to flower, growing evermore complicated to not only allow the insects to help pollinate them but also to defend themselves against the pesky critters that had now started to feed off them too.

The evolutionary arms race now in full swing, created a diversity of growth that could never had been reached without the battle against each other.

We often look back, not as far as the moss riddled Ordovician period, as an industry to the Golden Age of Advertising. In America it was the 50s and 60s, in Britain we tend to look at the 70s and the 80s, a decade ago South America really upped their game (in my opinion), give it another 25 years and I’m sure the noughties will be their golden age.

History is a constant story of cycles, in fashion, in booze, in sports, in music and in brands. It’s no surprise that industries are the same.

When we hear stories of advertising’s golden ages they are normally dominated by strong characters fighting for what they believe. George Lois threatening to throw himself off a window ledge if the client didn’t buy his ad. Or the way Peter Marsh and ABM brought the top brass of British Rail to a pitch winning rage by treating them the same way the public think they’re treated by the infamous rail company.

We hear of agencies and work that defy the brief, that lift the brand above the turgid landscape of their competitors.

I wonder if agencies are the insects in the evolving story. As brands protect themselves from agency creativity, hiding behind data (that’s another story) then agencies have to work harder to find new ways to help their clients grow.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for brands to play it safe, especially in this day and age of instant thumb judgement, as social media has made mini-Caligulas of us all. But I also believe that it is impossible to be different without standing out.

So if I’m right, and the flowering plants are winning this particular battle, then it’s up to agencies to evolve again and bring some gold to the current age of creativity.

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