Super Bowl time is always about the ads. But this weekend let's revisit one of the most epic halftime performances of all time--Prince. The edited commentary is wonderful throughout this updated video.
It's true what this year's editor of The Gunn Report said about ideas. It's why nearly any agency can have one hit.
But the real marks of agency team success are two fold: does success happen over time, and does success happen in one shop across multiple categories in one calendar year? If so, you're on it.
"Ideas are fragile; they can collapse at any point. Sometimes an idea is pure and simple, you can feel the power of it from its inception; others have been shaped and crafted into great. It takes passion, tenacity, it takes a team and a great client. None of it is easy, but greatness comes in not giving up."
We know it as sh*t happens. But there's a scientific law that is a core component of the world's energy: the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. It sounds big, but in actuality it's a very simple concept to share. And when asked which scientific term ought to be more widely known, this one was Steven Pinker's answer. It's the sand castle analogy that brings it home...
Of all these states, the ones that we find useful make up a tiny sliver of the possibilities, while the disorderly or useless states make up the vast majority. It follows that any perturbation of the system, whether it is a random jiggling of its parts or a whack from the outside, will, by the laws of probability, nudge the system toward disorder or uselessness. If you walk away from a sand castle, it won’t be there tomorrow, because as the wind, waves, seagulls, and small children push the grains of sand around, they’re more likely to arrange them into one of the vast number of configurations that don’t look like a castle than into the tiny few that do
More generally, an underappreciation of the Second Law lures people into seeing every unsolved social problem as a sign that their country is being driven off a cliff. It’s in the very nature of the universe that life has problems. But it’s better to figure out how to solve them—to apply information and energy to expand our refuge of beneficial order—than to start a conflagration.
So as agencies work on digital product delivery, as nationalism tries to perfect every problem, as we think about AI, VR and AR--as we move further into these places and spaces let us remember this law and how it's baked into our world from the core. It's probably impossible to design a truly perfect system.
When I started doing planning this was one of the first principles I found and used. I still call back to it... The balance of doing the basics well and then finding something remarkable to add to it is a helpful base to try to work from. Like combining John Wooden and Led Zeppelin.
I was putting together a bunch of important philosophies and I was pleased that this was still with me. The Art of War has lots of amazing thoughts. But this one is the bit that really connected with me for business. I've covered lots of miles with it.
3. As the world gets increasingly connected we are also sometimes getting more disconnected: Today over 3 billion people are connected with over 1.5 billion people on Facebook alone. But oddly a combination of people seeking out people like themselves, algorithms that maximize engagement by showing us things we agree with has actually left us disconnected from ideas, individuals and initiatives that do not “fit” our lives. Thus we float in our little bubbles, warm in our soapy self-loving embrace, while occasionally flaming and pricking other bubbles that float by which are not aligned with our way of thinking.
This lack of connection and trust was seen in Edelman’s Trust Barometer where trust levels for business, leaders and the media were at all-time lows. People now look to friends and family and people like themselves for news, opinion and expertise. We can make fun of some of our “post-truth” politicians but if we spend our time in our own self-reinforcing chambers are we not also “post-fact” or “post-truth”?
And it is here where I found the folks at Davos were behaving with trepidation and uncertainty. For instance, given the huge concentration of wealth or revenue in a sliver of companies and people (10 percent of the companies drive 80 percent of profits, 8 people have the same wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion, and technology is actually making more wealth go to fewer people with in many tech industries one company taking it all) there was very little real discussion on any painful steps that would be needed to be taken to ensure that those left behind and angry do not explode. No talk of new regulations or laws. No talk of taxes. No talk of re-distribution. Apparently providing training (with no details of even how this was to be done) and some light self-regulation will be enough.
The reason that at Davos there was uncertainty because the folks know that society is changing in ways where an unmitigated quest of globalization, improving the state of the world at the expense of the state of a country and pursuing stock holder return/wealth creation alone, no longer resonates or will be accepted.
It is the reason many companies are leading with the “Responsible and Responsive” focus ensuring that in addition to CSR activities they truly help people’s lives get better. The soft edges of a companies will become competitive edges.
Part of having kids is dealing with clutter. Part of working in a creative field is often appreciating clutter. Being surrounded by loved things as you work and live has always brought joy to me. I don't like a mess--rather the contrary--but I've always been just fine with clutter. What's the difference? Never quite knowing why, I read this: "clutter is all the things you most need, never use, but can't part with."
It makes sense. And it's nice that Karl Lagerfeld prefers disorder as he works.
It's all in this cool coffee table type book by Mary Randolph Carter, the Creative Director @ Ralph Lauren.
Politics has never been much of a thing to me. Reading about Presidents and American history has always been important, but contemporary politics just never pulled me in much. Until this fall, of course. Probably like a lot of people.
So then I spent a lot of time thinking about the differences of parties and people and such. Which led to long thoughts. Oftentimes unpleasant, and winding ideas. Which gets tiring.
Then you read a zinger that just sums it all up. Like this, from here:
“The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good."
Sounds about right. From that one thought you can pull down nearly all policies and points-of-views. You can see why collaboration is hard. And you begin to understand the outlook of someone different than you in a helpful way.
What's also great about that particular line is that it doesn't place higher importance toward either direction. Neither can be proved wholly right. Or wholly wrong. They just are.
An email train about vintage DDB was happening and I had to add the Porsche work by Helmut Krone. The files online were a little hard to work with so here are some. In the 70s and early 80s you can imagine how inventive these were for car ads. Perhaps still to this day--although how people would take them in would certainly be different. Think of how beautiful the elements of these would be online...