This short essay is ultimately a book review, but it starts off with a metaphor. One where I liken creating advertising on multiple platforms to those geeky 3-dimensional chess sets. Remember the ones you saw on early Star Treks, or maybe in the lounge of your freshman dorm?
The classicist in me scorned how these 3-dimensional chess ruined the purity of the game. I’d think, dude, come on, the game’s been around since what? The 6th century? And now you and Hasbro are changin’ the rules? Bite me, is what I said.
It occurred to me my reaction was a little like the one I had back in the ‘90s when the digital revolution was changing the rules of the advertising business. At first I thought this online stuff wasn’t really advertising. It didn’t adhere to the rules I’d learned in my apprenticeship. Then as the ones-and-zeros gained ground, they just sorta pissed me off because now, just when some of us were starting to get the hang of this thing called advertising, just as we were finally learning how to write our way out of a paper bag … (hint: write on the top inside of the bag and then just sorta angle your hand out and down and then keep writing) … just as we gained some command of the craft, the whole world changed.
Can you imagine something like this happening in the world of, say, plumbing? Dude goes to trade school, learns American Standard toilets, learns Kohler faucets, learns welding, piping … gets out, first house he goes to the owner points to some computer bank where his toilet has “digitally backed up.”
That’s how it felt to knuckleheads like us; we, who the press called the digital immigrants.
To deal with this revolution, we had a number of options. Some of us got drunk. Some of us got angry. And some of us just took a deep breath and swam with the current; tried to learn the new world and perhaps bring to it the disciplines and abilities we’d learned in the old.
Which brings me around to my short book review.
There’s a fantastic new book out there by the editor of Creativity, Teressa Iezzi. Titled The Idea Writers: Copywriting in a New Media and Marketing Era. Appropriately, (he thinks smugly) I’m reading it on my iPad. I highly recommend it.
It’s the first book I’ve seen that thinks through what passes for “rules” in the new digital world. She uses many great examples, mostly campaigns you probably know about, but they all help her build a map, a way of looking at this new three-dimensional chess set.
Yes, the old game is still in there, somewhere. Creativity, still needed. Storytelling, still needed. But the added platforms, the interactivity, the inclusion of the customer, the fluidity, the speed, man, it all makes for a totally new game.
I’m playin’ it the best I can. I’ll see you down in the freshman lounge.