Behind the bubble, creativity has always existed

This is our response to a thoughtful post by Mullen’s Edward Boches, who suggests that Gen Y will change media and marketing forever.

Let me suggest the radical answer of “No.”

Yes, marketing will evolve, but I think, Edward, you take today’s tech trend line too far. Let me challenge your hypothesis that “as the first generation of so-called digital natives gets older … their media habits will force marketers to change strategies and tactics even more rapidly.”

First, social media is not replacing mass media. The social media Kool-Aid drinkers should pause and reread that line. Adults 18-24 today watch 210 minutes of live television a day — vs. 336 for adults 45-54 and 421 minutes for adults 65+ — less than their older peers, but not nothing, and still an almost obscene amount of 3 hours and 30 minutes a day. This represents almost one-half of all young adults’ media use. Now, within the migrating wave of social media, much of it is similar entertainment — consuming videos on Hulu and YouTube, watching video games as they wiggle controls. It’s important to look at the entire entity of consumer behavior when building campaigns, and old media cannot be ruled out as “replaced” by new media. Instead, much of what we see are simple shifts in formats, with similar consumption modalities inside.

Second, there is no creativity revolution. Why? Creation and collaboration have always been part of human activity — this is nothing new. The pianos people once circled around in homes in the 1920s were devices people used to make music; churches were the weekly aggregation of storytelling and pageantry; dances are where people used to throng to express themselves. Humans have always had two concurrent needs, to watch entertainment from afar (campfires and TV) and to share stories and create their own entertainment (guitars and YouTube). If anything, sociologists could worry that modern Americans are *less* creative than their forebears because they spend more time passively watching video and playing video games than running outside to create their own entertainment, or playing instruments that require hard practice.

So the real answer is more nuanced. Yes, media is changing, because it always has. Yes, humans create and share, because we always do. The fragmentation of television in the 1980s forced marketers to consider one-to-one marketing in the 1990s; the rise of millions of sites on the Internet in the 1990s led marketers to chase content portals or search engines in the early 2000s; the rise of simple social-media creation interfaces in the past few years has people now worried about curation and viral propagation. These are all important steps forward. The challenge for us in the ad industry is not to believe every minor shift is a paradigm revolution, because today’s Twitter is tomorrow’s fax machine, just another tool for people to do what they’ve always done. Watch and share.

Image: Brian Richardson

2 thoughts on “Behind the bubble, creativity has always existed

  1. Did read

    Left comment where I started

    located here

    Throwing caution to the wind I will add to what you say. There is a slow to acceptance of social media as a tool for another reason; the “not invented here” problem. Publishing, Radio then Television (Big 3 Media) has pretty much had control over media consumption and advertising is known fact. The advertising was done thru, for and by their command so to speak.

    If I use a wide brush stroke across social networks Facebook down to MySpace and Twitter as adult SMS with AIM qualities the ‘Phone’, then not invented by an industry that is part of Big 3 Media equals fear. No control of message morphing into “situations” is fact.

    You said evolve. Agree with that. Consumption is a piece of plywood covering spilled ball bearings is how I see it. If I want to watch content on 5 platforms that is because I can, however, not all content is suitable for all 5 and ads are more likely to spawn bad press if not done well on each. That is TV transport evolving.

    Online has more friction because of 100% “not invented here”. I could cite my mobile provider T-Mobile’s Marketing for not executing G2 phone delivery hype on Facebook well. For the simple reason excellent Customer Service gets verbal rocks thrown at them for things they don’t control. I left a rant @adland I recall. I should visit that cooled down set of words.

    Conclusion is pending complete takeover of the net by Big 3 Media. Crystal Ball says not expecting any shakeup. Advertising & Marketing just doing what you sad – evolve [or die].

  2. Always good to have the Ben Kunz perspective. However, you are putting a few words in my mouth. (And over reacting to others; I’m trying to promote a panel here. Should have invited you. Oversight on my part.) Never said that people wouldn’t or didn’t watch TV. Said they won’t become couch potatoes: passive consumers versus more active ones. And yes, I too, read Clay Shirky and have heard all the arguments about how we’ve always been creative, it’s just that we took a break for the last 50 years as TV consumed every waking hour. But you must admit that social media, mobile web access, weak ties, and increased interaction with content, media and community, all of it indigenous to this new, younger, more tech savvy generation makes it harder for brands to buy attention. They have to earn it, compete for it, and perhaps soon even get permission from consumers for when that can happen, via the likes of Sendza, Placecast, Shopkick, RFID apps, etc. I, too, am a believer in the future of TV, or at least video content that we sit back and take in. But I watch my kids and it’s pretty obviously that how they learn about brands and become enamored with them has little to do with traditional advertising and more to do with how word gets spread within their communities, and even from which platforms that word arrives. You just like to debate. Which I welcome any time.

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