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Just doing it 29 March, 2007

Posted by Jay Ball in theory.
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Last week, I got the chance to hang out at the Future Marketing Summit 2007 in London. The theme was integration and it managed to attract a host of practitioners from a decent variety of agencies – large, small, digital, traditional etc. While it was clear that most agencies haven’t fully cracked integration, there was a consensus view that we are all headed in that direction – always good to hear when you work with an integrated agency.

I won’t go into a blow by blow report of the summit, you can find one of those here.

A couple of things struck me. One was about the relationship of advertising to design. For two disciplines that are so close on one level, on most others they often appear to come from different planets. I’ll post more about this soon, I want to marshal some thoughts first.

The other came from a comment that Russell Davies made. The panel was discussing who was good at integration in action (as opposed to those who simply talk a good game). Crispin, Porter + Bogusky came up as the current poster child of the integrated agency world. Russell made the point that there was no magic formula to their success, that they obviously had a density of talent but that their real skill was that they got on and actually made the ideas real.

This thought was brilliantly illustrated later by Tim Ashton of Antidote (who I felt was the closest of anyone at the event to getting the whole integration thing right and was the one presenter to make me feel downright jealous). He presented a case study around We are what we do and the Change the world for a fiver book. It was a great example of just getting on and doing it. I’m sure the charity-ish nature of the book helped in their ability to beg and borrow material but the attitude of just getting it done that Tim talked about was inspiring. If they needed a shot and couldn’t get it, they took it. Many agencies wouldn’t dream of doing this, they’d want it all polished and perfect. But the result Antidote achieved was certainly good enough.

This move against overly polished work, towards work that’s always work in progress is a massively liberating thought. Yes, it’s still got to look good and has to have a great idea behind it but not be so ‘constructed’ that it feels like spin. Jay Chiat is often quoted as saying “good enough isn’t good enough” but today, maybe it is. If the thinking is right, if we make the right connections with the audience, if we’re authentic, then we can begin to loosen the grip of the cookie cutter brand manual.

I can only see this as a good thing.

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