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Archive for March 4th, 2009

Black, White, Blue - by Olivier Blanchard 2009

I don’t have to be right.

Maybe everything I have written about on this blog these last few years is completely wrong. Maybe the last 15 years of my professional life have been a complete waste of time. Maybe this brain, these eyes, these ears have gotten everything wrong from Day One.

Maybe sitting here day after day these last few years, figuring out how to dispense the best advice and insight possible has been a monumental waste of my time and yours.

Maybe, just maybe, I am a complete moron who has absolutely no idea what he is talking about.

Maybe rigid thinking is better than adaptive thinking.

Maybe Twitter is just another stupid fad after all. A noise channel. A worthless time suck for marketing posers.

Maybe blogs are a waste of time.

Maybe things like innovation, smart design, flawless usability, rich customer engagement and developing truly progressive work environments are completely overrated.

Maybe the reason why Wall Street is failing, why most ad agencies are struggling to stay afloat, why advertising’s ROI is in the gutter, why traditional marketers are loathed the way lawyers used to be, why American auto manufacturers are dying, why our infrastructure is crumbling… maybe none of it has anything to do with greed, stupidity or arrogance. Maybe none of it has anything to do with decision makers holding on to their stale, rigid old ways of doing things.

Stale, rigid old ways of looking at a world they want to believe isn’t changing.

Maybe yesterday’s experts like to pretend that “there are no new experts” because they truly are humble and cool and enlightened. Maybe it has nothing to do with the fact that they see the shadow of their own obsolescence growing about them, and scoffing at anything that threatens them seems like a good way to feel some measure of control over their fates.

It’s a possibility. I am fully prepared to accept that maybe, just maybe, they have been right and I have been dead wrong this whole time: The layoffs. The marketshare erosion. The total lack of strategy. The ridiculous exercises in re-branding and logo redesign and viral marketing stunts. The way WOMM got hijacked by marketing firms and ad agencies to serve them rather than their clients. The fact that crafting expensive campaigns rather than creating lasting cultures still seems to be the MO. Maybe none of these things have anything to do with poor leadership, ineffective methodologies or dysfunctional corporate cultures.

Maybe none of these things have anything to do with companies more concerned with how to nickel-and-dime each other than with creating something of substance for their customers, partners and stakeholder. Something meaningful and relevant and culture-affecting maybe. No… none of it would have anything to to with that. That would be impossible.

It isn’t a stretch to guess that maybe I have been looking at all the wrong case studies as well. Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe I am just too much of an amateur to know good from bad, smart from dumb, effective from not. Maybe unlike the “real” pros, I can’t tell correlation from causality. Maybe I am not even smart enough to know how to connect the dots along a chain of events that lead to business successes and/or failures.

Maybe in retrospect, I should have spent more time working for agencies than for clients. Too much focus on actually getting results as opposed to billing and selling may have clouded my judgment all these years. Who knows? Why not.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m just a guy with a soapbox and a bunch of opinions I can’t really back up. Maybe I don’t know what the hell I am talking about.

It’s all very possible.

Maybe Levi’s will never stop being the biggest denim brand in the world. Maybe the world’s biggest banks will never fail. Maybe American manufacturing and farming will always be the greatest in the world. Maybe the US’ oldest newspapers will continue to print and prosper. Maybe the PR industry will continue to thrive on messaging and traditional tactics. Maybe talking companies into signing off on unnecessary rebrandings has nothing to do with ego or self-interest.  Maybe we will even wake up tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, and things will be okay again – market bubbles, denial complete lack of accountability and all.

Like I said, I don’t have to be right.

I really don’t.

For real.

So if you think I’ve been wrong about everything, that’s okay. I don’t mind.

Come to think of it, I don’t mind at all.

In spite of my possibly having wasted your time all these years or months, have a great Wednesday, everyone. 😉

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