“The past has a vote, not a veto”

The world has changed, but the way that we operate in many spheres has not changed enough.

Not enough systematic change.  This is true of many sectors, including advertising.

Not enough change.  It’s true of fiscal policy according to Conservative Party leadership candidate Liz Truss.  She’s advocating tax cuts, arguing that the Treasury has outdated views on what works in stimulating the economy. 

Not enough change.  It’s true that this is one of the barriers to inclusion, equity and belonging.  Newer tech has been shown to carry the prejudice of the past when algorithms endorse the biases of old.  As algorithms invisibly permeate our world constant vigilance is crucial.  Our children need to learn to be as aware of this as they grow up in a world where their preferences are always reinforced potentially manipulated.  We need to teach our children well in this respect.

Not enough change.  There’s a catch 22 that may be familiar to many when innovation is requested but meets with an additional requirement that it is proven to work from past experience.  An impossible conundrum. 

Crucially we are in danger of continuing to follow the advertising rules of thumb or heuristics of the past in a world that we know has changed irrevocably.

I was delighted to share a stage in late July at the Odeon on Shaftesbury Avenue in London with global ceo of creative systems Stef Calcraft.  We had invited guests from across marketing and media to join us for our curation of Cannes Lions winners on the Big Screen.   Describing a new era of creativity Stef said: “The world has changed, and the people we need to connect with have changed too.  Our job is to understand what matters to them most, what they really care about, and give them more of what they want and more of what they need.  If we can do this, we’ll be more successful than ever before.”  Yet so much thinking is stuck in old paradigm, pre-internet thinking.  We must transform how we work and how we create to build platforms and ideas that truly make a difference in todays transformed world.  Back to Stef: “We have entered a new creative era where the ideas we create can be more purposeful, more powerful, and inherently more active than ever before. We are all privileged to have this opportunity.”

This isn’t a return to the so-called “golden age” of full-service agencies.  (Unlike many people I remember that era and it was mostly not a golden age for media, which was often sidelined.)  

This is the creation of a new way of working that harnesses the brand truth, the consumer reality and cultural relevance.  Its hard to change.  Its hard to throw off the shackles of the past.  Yet this we must now do.

One of the great Jewish thinkers Mordecai Kaplan, a man who played a huge role in adapting Jewish religious practices for the modern era said this: “The past has a vote, but not a veto”.  We need to pay respect to the past but not let it limit how we work today.

Its great to have perspective on past success, its important to incorporate the lessons of experience, but it is more crucial to be open to new ways of working to drive success in this complex world.  A golden age, for creativity.

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