I am a changed man. I started my career working for a UK PR agency, a pretty aggressive and fantastically innovative one at that. From my very first day until the moment I left, I – along with my colleagues – learned to reject, nay loathe, any creative channel that wasn’t PR. It was instilled in the agency’s ethos and ingrained in the team’s culture to favour PR above all else.
To our collective thinking, PR was the only remaining bastion of moral marketing intelligence; the purveyor of true behavioural change and primary artillery of any self-respecting CMO or indeed CEO.
They were wrong; I was wrong. Yet it wasn’t until I left PR did I recognize that so many other agencies – across all the disciplines – are obsessively driven by the same channel tribalism. Something gyro calls creative apartheid.
This blinkered vision doesn’t just fail the execution of an idea. It impacts on the idea itself, and ideas are essentially the crux of all marketing activity. The single most dangerous thing in the world is an idea. An idea can achieve, improve and change anything – for any number of people. This is fact, and as marketers, we are all seeking the idea that will transform our client’s/brand’s world. But something is missing; marketers and agencies the world over are creating selfish ideas, thereby betraying the core idea of, well, an idea.
Ideas with “me” in mind.
The “me” is the media budget, the digital budget, the events budget. It’s the imagined “clash” with PR activity, the news agenda, internal communications. We are too often creating ideas that sit far too close to these negative influences.
The true measure of an idea is its ability to exist everywhere. What good is a PR idea pushed into advertising or a digital idea molded into events? A truly big idea doesn’t need to change its shape in the name of a 360-degree approach. It should flow wherever we as people see it and, most important, where we can feel it.
Consider this: Hold your agencies to account not for their executional excellence but of the expansive power of their ideas. You will see change occur. Executional excellence is expected but ultimately forgettable; consumers remember the idea and the effect it had on them. What an idea starts should never stop.
Ideally, agencies of all sizes, working across all disciplines, in different locations, can pitch ideas against each other. The idea is what matters, not how it is delivered. Ignore anybody’s protestations that the reverse is true.
by Patrick Danaher
Director of Marketing
Cross posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network