Open Systems Advertising: Campaigns as Chameleons

3 09 2008

As the worlds of advertising and technology converge inexorably, it’s not just changing how we communicate. It must also change how we think.

In the Mad Men era, advertising was a closed system. PC Week defines this as: “A system in which (specs) are kept secret… It inhibits third-party software from being installed; it keeps third-party hardware from interoperating with it, and it prevents third-party enhancements from improving the product.”

The Closed System: Campaigns as Cathedrals

Advertisers had all the power. What digital consumers now take for granted: researching alternatives, reading reviews, comparing prices, giving feedback – was slow and painful, if you could do it at all.

Manufacturers built ad messages like cathedrals: massive, ornate, lasting forever. Consumers would worship there, if only because they had no alternative.

The Open System: Campaigns as Chameleons

Advertising is becoming a more open system.

PC Week defines an open system as one that “allows third parties to make products that plug into or interoperate with it. (…) the PC is an open system, (but) the fundamental standards are controlled by Microsoft Intel and AMD.”

That’s a pretty radical shift. What are the implications?

  1. Advertising will be messier with more inputs and outputs than ever. This is not temporary; it’s the future. Making the chaos look simple is our new job.
  2. Advertising should be created with change in mind. We need to look for new ways for consumers to plug into or interoperate with it.
  3. Marketing you can’t “plug into” will probably look to a consumer like it’s broken.
  4. BUT advertisers must continue to control the “fundamental standards”. The idea that consumers own our brands 100% and that we must give up control entirely is both dangerous and irresponsible
  5. Production costs need to radically shrink to match the expected useful life of the message.

Perhaps the most important shift is that must abandon the idea that we can use rigorous market research to guarantee success.

Instead, we should borrow a management technique from the technology business. Let’s learn how to fail as quickly and cheaply as possible. That’s the open source way, and it works.

P.S. Think the true mark of a genius is that they always get it right the first time? Nope.

A good article in Discover Magazine says Einstein made a lot of mistakes. In fact, they list 23 big ones. If we’re not making mistakes, we should be asking ourselves if we’re pushing for progress hard enough. We should be making at least as many mistakes as a genius.

Chronology of Einstein’s Mistakes

  1. 1905 Mistake in clock synchronization procedure on which Einstein based special relativity
  2. 1905 Failure to consider Michelson-Morley experiment
  3. 1905 Mistake in transverse mass of high-speed particles
  4. 1905 Multiple mistakes in the mathematics and physics used in calculation of viscosity of liquids, from which Einstein deduced size of molecules
  5. 1905 Mistakes in the relationship between thermal radiation and quanta of light
  6. 1905 Mistake in the first proof of E = mc2
  7. 1906 Mistakes in the second, third, and fourth proofs of E = mc2
  8. 1907 Mistake in the synchronization procedure for accelerated clocks
  9. 1907 Mistakes in the Principle of Equivalence of gravitation and acceleration
  10. 1911 Mistake in the first calculation of the bending of light
  11. 1913 Mistake in the first attempt at a theory of general relativity
  12. 1914 Mistake in the fifth proof of E = mc2
  13. 1915 Mistake in the Einstein-de Haas experiment
  14. 1915 Mistakes in several attempts at theories of general relativity
  15. 1916 Mistake in the interpretation of Mach’s principle
  16. 1917 Mistake in the introduction of the cosmological constant (the “biggest blunder”)
  17. 1919 Mistakes in two attempts to modify general relativity
  18. 1925 Mistakes and more mistakes in the attempts to formulate a unified theory
  19. 1927 Mistakes in discussions with Bohr on quantum uncertainties
  20. 1933 Mistakes in interpretation of quantum mechanics (Does God play dice?)
  21. 1934 Mistake in the sixth proof of E = mc2
  22. 1939 Mistake in the interpretation of the Schwarzschild singularity and gravitational collapse (the “black hole”)
  23. 1946 Mistake in the seventh proof of E = mc2

P.P.S. Not to brag, but there’s no way I would have made mistake 22. I’d have to know what the Schwarzschild singularity is in the first place, and I don’t.




One response

4 02 2009
Cheetos and Boing-Boing: The Orange, Cheesy-Smelling Future of Advertising? « i C P G

[…] doesn’t take itself seriously. They are not building cathedrals. The idea seems to be to be entertaining and get people to think about Cheetos. There is apparently […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: