Nadya Powell has broken up with advertising. Some in the industry haven’t taken the new so well. Others are jumping to defend our industry in a “Well, good riddance, we don’t need you” scorned lover way. I know its been a few weeks since the original article but I thought it deserved some thought and time to respond.
Let's get the end, started.
For me though, I think we need to start accepting the break up. Deal with our emotions and see what we can learn from our relationship with such a great creative.
So I thought I’d look at her ‘Dear John’ and try and work out what went wrong, what I / we can do to help our industry get over it. I won't break down every point but only mention what stood out to me.
“You don't have any dreams anymore .You stopped talking about what we could do. You started cutting corners. Doing things on the cheap. In less time. And what’s worst is that you don’t seem to care.”
Like most relationships, we got comfortable. There was the time when we were the pioneers. Our teenage years when we wowed the world with the use of the new platforms. I’ll admit it, maybe we tried too hard to be grown up. We didn’t embrace the weird and wonderful of our youth. We’ve tried to tidy up and be more presentable as an industry. We wanted to be seen as more than entertainment and distraction. In our strive to be grown up we wanted to show the world that what we do matters.
That meant we lost our confidence about our role in society. We began to think that we were important. Gate keepers to game-changing moments. Our rewards began to reflect our new found worthy egos.
That meant, without the confidence in ourselves, we tried to be too many things to too many people. We spread ourselves too thin. We forgot that we were about the big idea. Got carried away with big executions and novelty. We wrote scripts instead of tapping into insights as we wanted to be up there with TV shows. We built experiences without ideas as we were jealous of technology.
You’re right for a while, we lost the dream.
But in a way we had to. We’ve been on our travels. We’ve been ‘finding ourselves’. We made mistakes.
And let's not forget we're a new bunch. We're a fuzzy bunch of Gen X, Millennials and all sorts of buzzwords that the folks before left us. There was a lot of baggage in the industry we had to get past to really start settling in ourselves. We had to bridge the gap between a time of TV and print into a new world of digital and social. We literally saw the rise of a new world in our time. No wonder we tried to be a little bit of everything and anything.
We have new dreams now. We’re finding our confidence again as an industry. We’re trying to bring out the rebel youth but with the ability to handle problems like a grown up. We’re more open now, happier to work with specialists. Embracing collaborations like never before.
Our dreams are back but they’re fragile and I understand why, when you’ve been with us when it got hard why it might be hard to see them. They are there. I know that you’ve moved on, left us but know that your words will help us move on ourselves. So thank you.
“You have a new love. And she's called data”
I know. We were trouble when we got together. I would like to say that we fell in with a bad crowd but we can’t blame data. Trouble that advertising isn’t alone in. Innovation, Tech and even Supermarkets have been learning how best to use data, and ‘big data’ in particular left lots of industries confused. Though, we’ve managed to learn a lot in a short time - we're moving quicker as an industry then we ever have before. Smaller shops and nimble agencies are popping up to adapt quickly.
"So fuck you."
I guess, on the whole the industry might deserve that. It is a break up and I know it can get a bit intense getting everything out. No response back from me other than that I understand it isn't personal. Not now. It has been a long time coming.
I could go on, in more detail on every point in the original post but I feel like in the interest of everyone’s time I should sum up thus:
Advertising is constantly reborn.
Advertising isn’t and hasn’t been one long line of continuous industry. Each generation helps shape what advertising has become. It has adapted, changed and evolved. Sluggish at some points, pioneering at other times.
The industry is a reflection of what we’re trying to do. Its mistakes are our mistakes. It is easy to blame this entity called ‘the industry’ and to distance ourselves from its faults.
Advertising is in the hands of the people who create it.
Like you say, this is a relationship. So maybe me, you and everyone else who’s helped shape this industry, even just a little bit, should accept our role in the problems this industry faces.
As any good relationship councillor will tell us - make sure we’re not projecting our problems. So let’s start with reflection and then we can, even if we split up, go onto stronger healthier relationships. Nadya's break up letter was a lot of 'you's and little looking back at the two way part of the relationship. So I'll make sure, post break up I'll focus on what mistakes I'm making while trying to make positive changes.
For my part. I know our industry has faults, I know it can be better but I’m not ready to walk away from it. I can play my part in that change I want to see. I know I can be better, and by being a better me, a better relationship will be set for the next generation of advertisers. I guess my take out for us in 'the industry' is not to get our backs up at the break up but to learn from it. Learning starts with us.
Nadya and everyone who also wishes to break up/replace/reject the industry, I wish you luck and success. Use the tools of advertising to promote your new world, create work you're proud of and make a difference. I hope our industry, when you were part of it helped you in someway grow. Honestly, I only wish for our industry to have more of a positive impact on people's lives, so I hope it starts with those leaving us. My only request is don't put us down to big yourself up. No one likes to start a new relationship with someone bitching about their ex. So wherever you want to be, start strong and focus on that. It is as much for you to move on as it is us.
Ultimately, the door is open to all those out there to come and help us make a better industry for our clients, our audience and for those who come to build on what we start.