30 years

We’ve Turned 30

Turning thirty is an interesting time. You’re a bit older (definitely), a bit wiser (you hope) and a bit more realistic (you better be). You’ve lost the majority of the youthful naivety that causes you to make stupid mistakes, but you’re still young enough not to feel old and out of touch. It’s a great age to be.

In business years however, it feels like several lifetimes.

You’ve seen it all a million times over. All the startups that shoot to success (and the ones that go nowhere), all the amazing campaigns (and all the cringey ones), all the ups and ALL of the downs.

Yet strangely, the marketplace still manages to surprise you every now and then with something new that you never expected. The joy of technology is that it’s always changing, so boredom, like everything else, has an app.

In the beginning…

Back when we started in 1988, things were…different.

Very different.

Content creation was something that required a colossal amount of effort, with many specialised skillsets that are now long gone (typesetting anyone?) being the norm. Looking back now, it feels like it we were working with such primitive tools. I guess technically we were. We had no Macs, no Adobe Creative Suite and no simple changes to an ad. Ads passed through a million hands before reaching the newspaper or TV screen.

It was a lot of work and it was awesome.

To describe today’s industry as a ‘modern’ is an understatement of epic proportions, it’s practically a different universe. Things that would have taken days or weeks 30 years ago take mere seconds to do today.

Fun fact – Photoshop actually came out the year we began.

Technology transforms at an exponential rate, so the direction of the industry has always been close behind.

The explosion of digital advertising in the last 10 years is a perfect example of this. TVRadio and Press remained largely unchanged during our time in the industry. Aside from improved cameras and more sophisticated executions of creative work, the medium has functioned pretty much the same.

Digital however, has been a game changer. It has ushered in a new age of advertising that has since dominated the industry and taken it into an entirely new direction.

Predicting the future…

Something that we’ve learned in the past 30 years is that it’s impossible to predict where the future of advertising lies. Every time you feel like you’ve gotten a handle on the market, something new comes along that you never expected and completely takes it by storm.

That being said, the past has taught us something very interesting. That while the methods of communication change, the fundamental challenges faced by businesses are exactly the same as it was when we began. These are desires for:

–       Increased profits, revenue or market share,

–       Higher brand awareness and

–       Growth

Every business wants these things. In addition to this, every business needs to hold up ‘their end of the bargain’ with the customer in order to succeed. It reminds me of a famous quote about advertising:

“If the product or service is good, advertising will speed up its growth. If it’s bad, advertising will speed up its death”.

The reality is that Google AdwordsFacebook Advertising and all other tools are simply just…tools. They will always change as technology and attitudes change, but they won’t ‘fix’ a flawed business.

In the next 30 years, we could be beaming messages directly into people’s brains. But if the product or service is bad, or the messaging is wrong, it will have as little effect on their purchasing decisions as a bad ad does today. People often get caught up in the ‘gimmicky’ side of advertising, thinking some revolutionary tool or platform will transform their business.

The reality is that nothing will transform a business more than a good product or service and a proper advertising strategy…and you can bet the next 30 years of your life on that.

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