Friday, September 5, 2008

Integration in the Ad World

Picture it...

There's a corner in BigCity, North America. Walking down one side is Lady Tradagency, in a suit, carrying a briefcase, chattering on her PDA about Bigclient and their TV ads and media buys and placement and deadlines and budgets like 6 mil.

Around the other side is Boy Digitalshop, on his roller skates, wearing an iPod, listening to Radiohead, thinking about updating his blog and following Don Draper on twitter and deadlines and budgets 60K.

Neither of them is paying attention to their surroundings and BLAM! they collide at the corner and her chocolate bar goes flying up into the air, spinning, somersaulting whooosh whooosh until PLOP it lands right in his open jar of peanut butter.

"Hey you got your digital in my Mass!"
"Hey you got your TV on my web!"

Integration is born!

That's how random things can feel when you try and integrate "new media and old media" or "interactive and traditional" or "chocolate and peanut butter" or "hohan and ronson". What's the plan, Stanley? What is the plan for integration? Will it work if there's no plan or is integration supposed to be a randomly successful accident. Some people are allergic to peanuts. What about them?

I just had lunch with someone in the biz and we had a long chat about people and how to staff up a shop that's integrated. The irony is, you can't staff up a shop that's integrated because they're already staffed up. Up to here. Up to there. With people that don't necessarily know what the plan is. With people who don't necessarily care. With people who don't know "where to start" because they think the web is about technology and they don't know how to "program".

I'm not being critical. I'm pointing at the big pink elephant. Look there it is.

Integration is the big pink elephant. I'm sorry but it has yet to work the way everyone says it's going to work and it's been nigh on 10 year that people have been aiming toward it. It's the ever elusive bull's eye, the v.gasm, the Yeti, the Easter Bunny, you name it. It amounts to a promise that cannot be fulfilled. Sorry. Get rid of it. Don't use the word. Try ANYTHING else but you'll not staff up a shop with the promise of integration because it doesn't exist. It can't exist because the whole idea of it is wrapped in MYTH. I don't mean falsehood. Look up the meaning of MYTH. Ask Northrop Frye. I mean integration is fraught with beliefs that someone just poof created out of thin air because they needed to believe. Not lies. Beliefs. Myths about integration. The myths you create around integration are the myths that negate it. Now what? We can dispel a few of they myths to start.

Mythbusting 101 point oh:

As in "Oh! I didn't know that." As in " Oh! crap we just blew our budget." As in "Oh, God. Save us from webmaggedon."

  1. If you don't know how to program a website, you don't know how to think for the web. (Bust: The web is more than a website. Cut it out.)
  2. Advertising on the web is putting a banner ad on line so the creative teams can just think "tv ad but smaller". (Bust: Is wearing make-up equal to plastic surgery?)
  3. Creative web folk don't understand TV. (Bust: Most people who work on the web did nothing but watch TV, do nothing but watch TV, eat drink man woman TV. We get it. We just don't work in that head space.)
  4. Web is the same as TV because you see it on a screen. So you should use it the same way. (Bust: Come on.)
  5. Creative folk that work on MASS hate people who work on the web because they are trying to steal their jobs, budgets, awards. (Bust: You put your job at risk the moment you become afraid you'll lose your job. It hinders your performance. Clients are moving the budgets. There are plenty of award categories that have been NEWLY created for newer media. When did they stop giving out awards for TV? MASS folk are not haters, they're just new at this web stuff. Stop thinking they're afraid of you, webbies!)
  6. Teams of 3 or more multi-disciplinary creative people won't get anything done and they can't meet deadlines. (Bust: The only reason they don't get anything done is because they're afraid to share ideas and lose the credit they oh so deserve because their egos are too big. Nothing to do with interactive folk vs. MASS folk. Same happens with two competitive teams who specialize in TV. Same happens when two competitive interactive teams work on interactive. Creative people are competitive. We have big egos and that is not a criticism. It's an observation, an elephant of a different colour. Look up the definition of the ego, it's the voice in your head that tells you you're not good enough and that you need to get credit for every little thing that comes out of your mouth because if you don't bad things will happen. Like....that OTHER guy will get the credit and lawdy forbid...the coveted AWARD.)
  7. Buying a web shop and making them sit in your office makes integration easier. (Bust: This is obvious. No it doesn't. Just because you get staff that knows web doesn't mean everyone will play nice. Or even know how to play nice. What are they supposed to do?)
  8. Integration means adding interactive to a MASS campaign. (Bust: Try this on for size: Force your team to come back with an idea that is born on and lives on the web and THEN after they sell that idea....only THEN can they come back with TV and print. I dare you to get your teams to do that from now on. By your team, I mean your whole team, including account folk. Keep telling people integration is about Flash on the web to extend a MASS thought and see how strong your results are. Back to the Easter bunny and the banner ad.)
  9. If you build it they will come. (Bust: Just because you say the team is integrated doesn't mean you'll get to hire that all-star. It's been a while. People are moving around. The secret is out that integration is not as easy as it seems.)
  10. Winning web awards when you didn't win them before means you're integrated. (Bust: What are your results? What is the purpose of the award? What did it do for the brand? There are 100+ questions I could ask here that makes this a MYTH of epic proportions.)

Is anybody seeing integration is a snake eating it's own tail?

Solution? If I had the answer, I'd be RICH. We can only try something else at this point but I'd start by asking people what they really think. Sure, I'm on the interactive side so I have my opinion but I have yet to meet someone who says integration has worked. Or is working. Ask anyone whose worked at an Agency that's integrated if they're really satisfied with what is happening around them. If they feel they're standing in a place they can identify.

Maybe changing the language is the place to start. Try calling it something else. Integration is not a good word because we've tainted it. Once you stop telling the world that you've got an integrated shop, you have a clean slate. Tabula rasa. You know....


Call it an existentialist shop, I don't know. Just try something else and let it come from THERE.

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