Category: Advertising

The exercise of power in a creative age

What do the following have in common?

1 - The_Last_Judgment_Michelangelo

2 - David


15 - Da Vinci - Virgin of the Rocks





They were advertisements -for ideologies, for empires of thought, for families, dynasties, and institutions of power.

Moreover behind each and every one there was a client  – a patron – who had commissioned and funded it. Serious men like this:


But what, you might ask, has any of this got to teach us about marketing and advertising in this, the twenty-first century?

The answer is simple. Everything.

Because they were created at the nexus of creativity and power. 

Creativity that would endure, that would continue to surprise, delight, teach, shock, inspire, move and enthral for hundreds of years. 

And power beyond anything wielded by today’s corporate clients – the kind of power that could make or destroy reputations, careers, and lives. The kind of power that invaded nations. That could put a man to death.

And therein – in this meeting of vast power and sublime creativity – lie the lessons.


But let us first start with a truth felt daily by those on the agency side, but rarely spoken of publicly – the last twenty years have seen a profound shift in the balance of power in client-agency relations.

The supply-side of marketing communications is over-populated like never before. Simply put, there are too many agencies pursuing not enough revenue. And so, as in any marketplace, the consequence of over-supply is inescapable. The buyer is in the driving seat – the terms and conditions, and the value put on ideas are increasingly set (and even dictated) by clients.

This is not some kind of wistful nostalgia for the halcyon glory days of old. It’s just simple – and brutal – economics.

One need only look to the steady erosion of agency margins, the increasing prominence of procurement in agency relations, the phenomenon of the unpaid pitch, and the invidious and unilateral extension of payment terms as evidence of this shift.

But while clients are more powerful than ever before, the nature of creativity has not changed. It is still a fragile, emotional, personal, mercurial, and unpredictable enterprise, one that cannot be bullied into existence. The fact still remains that fear is rarely a spur to greatness, and brilliance is rarely the product of a set of suffocating edicts and requirements. 

So the question now for every client is this: How can such power be a force for good? 

How can it liberate rather than stifle creativity?

How can it stimulate the kind of creativity that exceeds the imaginations and expectations of the client and paymaster, rather than that which merely panders to them?

How can it achieve its ambitions without fracking to exhaustion the very sources of creativity upon which it relies?

In this environment, the patrons of old – those who enabled such genius minds as da Vinci, Michelangelo, Carravaggio, Rubens, Bernini to create some of the greatest works of art in the Western world – have much to teach all of us.

There are four lessons in particular that are worth reflecting on, and taking to heart.


First, the achievements of patronage teach us to nurture creativity.

It is no accident that the word patron, in Latin, means Father.  A patron of the arts is one who “begets” and protects the Arts.

And while for most of human history art was a servant of power, both political and religious, the patrons appreciated the arts, liked them. Loved them, even.

Back in ancient Rome, Maecenas was one of the first and most famous patrons of the arts. While the purpose of his patronage was magnifying and extending the glory of Rome, he was also had a reputation for being more than just The Money, but being a man of taste and judgment. 


Indeed that appreciation extended beyond the work of the poets he supported, but to them as individuals. For example he happily provided the great Roman poet Virgil with a subsidy that allowed him to write without having to worry about living expenses.

Ruthless, avaricious, corrupt, self-serving, grasping, venal, cruel, vain, selfish, greedy, they might have been. But the great patrons of old believed in the power of art. And they believed in the talent of those responsible for creating it. 

There was nothing half-hearted about the patrons belief in art. And it could make for a difficult relationship. The likes of Michelangelo and Carravaggio were famous for the headaches they caused their patrons. The painter Salvator Rosa once told an imprudent client who had his own idea for a picture to “go to a brickmaker as they work to order”. But it was a friction borne of the patron’s fundamental belief in the power of art.

Moreover, patrons did not just commission work – such was their belief in the power of art that they actively worked to develop nascent artistic talent, and to create an audience for its works. 

Michelangelo was talent-spotted by the Medicis at the age of fourteen.


The aristocratic Italian banker, art collector and intellectual Vincenzo Giustiniani was a torchbearer for the intensely ascetic religious art of Carravaggio. Many found his emphatically humble vision of the origins of Christianity troubling. Giustiniani however, worked to advertise Carravaggio’s approach to devotional art, seeking to secure him papal favour. Indeed without this support, many of Carravaggio’s most remarkable paintings might never have been created.

10 - Caravaggio - Taking of Christ


Secondly, the achievements of patronage teach us to be ambitious.

The patrons of Renaissance Italy were nothing if not full of vision, ambition and purpose. 

Art existed to serve the needs and agenda of the institutions of power – church, state, guilds, corporations, and families. 

So whether it was appreciation, awe, reverence, piety, humility, envy… patrons wanted to have an effect on an audience. 

Full of ambition and purpose, Bernini’s Ecstasy  of St Theresa was born of Conaro’s resistance to the reforms of Martin Luther that treated religious imagery as evidence of worldliness and corruption. In contrast to the Protestant belief that the written word was what mattered, it was work of art born of a belief in the power of imagery to inspire the faithful.

But it goes beyond this, for it dared to embrace mysticism – the possibility and desirability of an individual union with God. Something that the both the Protestant and Catholic Church unsurprisingly found deeply threatening.

And yet here she is, reclining on a cloud, her head thrown back in a sigh and her chest offered for yet another thrust of the arrow from God’s angel, all with Cornaro and members of his distinguished family looking on.



Third, the achievements of patronage teach us to be generous.

If there is one thing that characterizes patrons across the ages, it’s their willingness to lavish cash on the artists and their projects.

Luxury spending flourished in Italian courts and cities even as the country’s wealth was ebbing.  So even while Italy was being sidelined by the discovery of Atlantic trade routes in the 16th and 17th centuries, such was their commitment to the arts, that the baroque popes lavished cash on marble and invested in the genius of Bernini.

14 - Bernini - Rape of Prosperina

Over a period of 37 years Cosimo Medici spent a sum equivalent to 10 million dollars supporting the arts, building churches, villas, the Medici Library, and aiding Greek scholars who were fleeing Constantinople in 1453. 

The journalist and art critic Jonathan Jones writing for The Guardian puts it well:

Let us remember that most of the world’s great works of art are the fruit of spendaholic patronage by magnificos who knew how to tell the accountants where to go… The best argument in favour of generosity is that no one remembers a skinflint fondly.”


And finally, the achievements of the patronage teach us to build to last.

We operate in a corporate world handcuffed to quarterly reporting cycles, in which the average tenure of the CMO is just forty-three months, which still struggles to grasp the fact that sustainable, profitable brand-building is a long-term undertaking, and is aided and abetted by a communications industry that fetishizes short-term bumps, blips and buzz.

Consummate brand builders, the patrons of old created not just for the here and now, but for generations hence.

The cathedrals of medieval Europe are a vivid example of the concerted and sustained patronage of prelates, kings, nobles, merchants, craftsmen, guilds,  and their will to see the glory of God permanently and physically embodied.



So, dear clients. You are wealthy. And you are powerful. But when it comes to to creating an environment in which creativity can flourish, you are perhaps in need of new heroes. New role-models. And a new standard. For power is just as capable of stifling creativity, as it is in liberating it.

The relationship between power and creativity, between mammon and the muse has always been a complex one. Good clients  – be they emperors, kings, dukes, popes, cardinals, bankers, and yes, even marketers – have always been alive to this truth.

However as the possibilities of our creative revolution continue to expand and bloom before our very eyes, more clients – if they wish to take advantage of them – will need to wake up and accommodate themselves to the very real risk and potential of their own power.

This is most certainly not to indulge in the lazy fantasy that clients become pliant, fawning “I love it, run it!” pushovers. The relationship between patron and artist after all, could be a famously fractious, even combustible affair.

Nonetheless, how to exercise a much expanded power in a way that properly stimulates creativity rather than fracks it to exhaustion feels like one of the more urgent issues before any corporation.

And in a world in which the explosion of creative possibilities has been matched by an expansion of corporate power, those who exercise the levers of finance and power could do worse than think and act like a patron.

To nurture creativity.

Be ambitious.

Be generous.

And build to last.

For when married to creativity, intelligent, nurturing, generous power, power with taste, ambition, and vision, is capable of achieving marvels.




An inconvenient conflict? Branding versus culture


Culture moves at the speed of our machines

It took a full seventeen days for news of Nelson’s victory in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar to reach London. The news had travelled at 2.7mph.

News of the 1891 Nobi Earthquake in Japan travelled at 246mph, taking one day to reach London.

And in 2008 it took just one minute for news of the Sichuan earthquake to reach – London, travelling at 204,000mph.

The Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903 reached 6.82mph.

Less than ten years later the Air Speed record had risen to 68.171mph with Alfred Leblanc’s flight.

By 1948 the record had reached 670mph.

Eleven years later the record stood at 2,193.2mph.

Aldous Huxley might have been right in his claim that speed really is the only pleasure invented by modernity.

Indeed the evidence is everywhere that the metabolism of our culture has shifted fundamentally.

We consume, discard and move on faster than ever before. More passes through our eyes, hands, ears, mouths, stomachs, and minds at a faster rate than ever before.

A river of novelty and sensation runs through our culture and through us as individuals.

And everywhere we look, we can find evidence of that speed and immediacy is not merely a phenomenon of our modern times, but has become an everyday expectation. We inhabit a culture that increasingly expects swift delivery and instant gratification.

Thus we have instant home loans. Instant tans. Instant messaging. Instant coffee. Instant approvals. Instant downloads. Instant replays. Instant results.

When the doors don’t close quickly enough, or it doesn’t arrive faster enough, we punch impatiently at the elevator button. We sound our horns as soon as the traffic light turns from red to green. We harrumph with exasperation when our transatlantic flight’s departure is delayed by twenty minutes. We drum our fingers on the counter while our allegedly ‘fast’ food is being prepared.

We’ve come to expect things so quickly that we can’t wait more than a few seconds for a video to load. Krishnan and Sitaraman’s analysis of the impact of video stream quality on viewer behavior reveals that viewers start to abandon a video if it takes more than 2 seconds to start up, with each incremental delay of 1 second resulting in a 5.8% increase in the abandonment rate. This means that after five seconds, the abandonment rate is 25%. And after 10 seconds, half are gone.

The decline in Americans’ personal personal saving rates — the percentage of disposable income save – has been much documented and commented upon. Back in December 1982, American’s saved 9.7%. By December 2012 it had declined to 3.6%. A whole gamut of reasons have been suggested for the decline, but one must wonder whether our growing focus on immediacy has also played a role.

Even the lag between buying online and waiting for delivery is demolished. As the author and cultural commentator Douglas Rushkoff has noted, the new incarnations of consumer goods and services “are successively less tangible, reducing the friction associated with purchasing, using, and disposing of real objects… As if coming full circle to the era of lords and vassals, we no longer own the land at all but simply pay for the right to use it”.

And of course in Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, SMS, we have our own, personal infrastructure of delivery and immediacy, our own always on, instant news channels that enable us to distribute and consume content, whether it’s home-made, bought, borrowed, or stolen.

Surveying this, our culture of immediacy, the sociologist Professor John Tomlinson argues that we are witnessing the closing of “certain separations that have historically defined the terms of human culture…”

And indeed wherever we look, delay and distance is being squeezed out of our culture and lives. We are witnessing the closing of the gap between the departure and arrival of anything. Between ignorance and knowledge. Between knowledge and experience. Between wanting and acquiring. Between acquiring and consuming.

As the gaps become compressed, so too does the gap between the past and the future. As if inhabiting some kind of rolling CNN news story, in a culture of immediacy we increasingly find ourselves living in one long, continuous present-tense. One, long Right Now.

Of course this culture offers us thrills, satisfactions, gratifications, pleasures, benefits, and advantages aplenty. And it isn’t just the ephemeral, the disposable, and the inconsequential that fills so much of consumer culture that has become accelerated. After all, we can can get informed and smarter faster. And we can deliver life-saving medicines faster.

But while there is much good to be had, and much to be thankful for in this, our culture of immediacy, the mechanics of effective branding run counter to the drift of culture.

For while our culture’s metabolism has accelerated, the means by which sustainable growth is created has not.

Sustainable memory-building takes time

To be found, considered, chosen, bought and consumed, brands rely on the creation of memory structures.

William Moran characterized this as the creation of ‘mental presence’ – what some refer to as ‘salience’ or ‘mental availability’.

Definitions of what exactly this constitutes abound, but Moran’s is pithily useful: “The degree to which a given brand comes to consumers’ minds in the context of a particular purchase occasion or consumption occasion.”

Clearly this is more than just top of mind awareness. To “come to mind” in purchase or consumption situations demands both quantity and quality of brand memories.

Quantity refers to the number of associations a buyer has about a brand, while quality refers to both the strength of the association and the relevance of that memory to the buying or consumption situation.

Of course what we call memories are connections between neurons. The more connections there are, the more memories there are. And the stronger the connection, the stronger the memory.

To create strong connections between neurons requires repetition. Robert Heath has characterized the process as one of repeatedly walking a path in the grass. Every journey we take on it makes the path more visible, more enduring.

In other words it takes time.

Thus, Coca-Cola is imbued the world over with associations of happiness because for 125 years it has one way or another talked about, celebrated and brought to life one thing.

There is another dimension to the act of repetition that we cannot ignore,

Professor Daniel Kahnemann’s work has shown how repetition makes things true. As he puts it “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”

The impatient marketer might look for ‘reasons to believe’, but psychology teaches us that saying a thing – repeatedly – makes it so.

Sustainable business growth takes time

And if creating enduing memory takes time, so too do the business effects of advertising.

In The Long And The Short Of It: Balancing Short- And Long-Term Marketing Strategies, Les Binet and Peter Field report on their of analysis of the IPA Effectiveness Databank. The data held therein is the product of 30 years of the IPA effectiveness Awards – numbering some 996 campaigns, for 700 brands in over 80 categories.

Their analysis makes it clear that (contrast to our culture of immediacy) advertising’s ability to create value is most keenly felt in the long-term:

The total number of business effects rises steadily as the campaign length increases… This is largely as one would expect: the longer a campaign runs, the more investment has been put behind it and the more time it has to generate effects.

This picture is replicated with the profit metric, though with a notably greater increase between 1 and 2-year campaigns.”

Most profitable of all are campaigns that drive both volume and pricing… Their principle characteristic is that incremental volume is achieved whilst strengthening margin.”

No 3-month campaigns report major pricing effects.”

Volume effects are quick to achieve but pricing effects take much longer.”

The creation of memory, brands, and business growth takes time. And as such it is, like it or not, at odds with one of the defining characteristics of our age.

This is not to deny the value of brands being responsive in the here and now. Or the value of a brand demonstrating its currency, of surfing the ever-changing waves, fads and currents of popular culture. Or of providing short-term bursts of interest and fame.

Nor is this to suggest that there is no value in short-term activity. As Binet and Field comment:

The IPA data suggests that the optimum balance of brand and activation expenditure is on average around 60:40, though this may vary by category and is driven by how category expenditure divides (typically 60:40): the objective is to achieve equal share of voice within brand and activation.”

Direct campaigns [campaigns that use immediate behavioral triggers] work most efficiently over short time frames…  They are essential for short-term sales efficiency. But direct campaigns are not efficient drivers of long-term growth (over 3+ years).”

That said, simply delivering short-term activity does not lead to success in the long term. As Binet and Field observe:

The way in which long-term effects are generated is fundamentally different from how most short-term effects are produced. Although long-term effects always produce some short-term effects, the reverse is not true and long-term effects are not simply an accumulation of short-term effects.”

So however much it may be the spirit (for better and for worse) of our times, we cannot allow our expectation of immediate delivery and satisfaction undermine our ability to deliver value.

Immediacy in adland

Yet symptoms of impatience are already to be found. We probably should not be surprised. After all only hermits, the psychopathic and the sociopathic are truly immune from the drift of culture.

Thus we see that the ability to deliver realtime marketing content can lead to the demand for realtime results.

The abundance of highly responsive communications metrics that digital interactions generate can lead to the assumption that success is to be found in the here and now.

The demand for immediate (job, decision and budget) justification can lead to short-term effects being passed of  or taken to be the same as effectiveness (there is a difference).

The expectation of immediate change leads researchers and their methodologies to  ignore the multiplying effects of time and repetition.

The demand for rapid career advancement leads to job tenures in the corporation that are too short to see real, meaningful business growth.

So where does this leave us?

Brand building does not move at the speed of culture

The metabolism of our culture continues to accelerate.

But  – and the evidence is clear on this – the metabolism of sustainable growth has not.

So building successful brands will as it has always done, continue to take time.

In the preface to his book Present Shock, Douglas Rushkoff (who could hardly be called a Luddite) warns us that:

“Our society has reoriented itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always on. It’s not a a mere speeding up, however much our lifestyles and technologies have accelerated the rate at which we attempt to do things. It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now – and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.”

Ensuring that we do not fall victim to the diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now it will demand of us a degree of fortitude. It will take a new degree of vigilance. It will require a determination not to give in to the expectation or demand of immediate delivery and satisfaction.

However much that may surround (and indeed delight us) us in our personal lives.


Les Binet and Peter Field, The Long And The Short Of It: Balancing Short- And Long-Term Marketing Strategies

S. Shunmuga Krishnan and Ramesh K. Sitaraman, ‘Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior: Inferring Causality Using Quasi-Experimental Designs’

William Moran, ‘Brand Presence And The Perceptual Frame’, Journal of Advertising Research, October/November 1990

Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

Michael Stillwell, A Farewell To Alms: A Brief Economic History Of The World

John Tomlinson, The Culture Of Speed: The Coming Of Immediacy

If you work in adland, you’re not normal: The evidence

It is human nature to extrapolate from our own, personal experience of the world.

And sometimes it is a useful place to start.

But as these exhibits from Thinkbox demonstrate, we would do well to remember that in some of our media and technology habits, we are very different from people in the normal world.


So next time you hear somebody claim that “everybody” is doing this, or “everybody” is doing that, take it with a grain of salt.

The chances are that they’re talking about themselves.

(If anybody has similar comparisons for other markets, do please share).

Down the rabbit hole


That treasure trove of knowledge, insight and thinking we know as Warc has very kindly reprinted my ‘Liberation of Magic’- post.

And made it lot more useful.

They’ve provided links (subscription required ) to most of the articles I’ve cited and actually turned it into something useful.

Access is via the homepage here:

What’s not to like about data and rabbit holes of inquiry?

The conflict between digital immediacy and effectiveness


The age-old tension

The tension between the long-term and the short-term has always been one that marketers and communicators have had to grapple with.

We’ve long observed and bemoaned the tension that exists between the corporation’s short-term reporting practices, performance goals and incentives, and the fact that branding’s biggest rewards are realized over the long-term.

Many of us will have raised an eyebrow at the discrepancy between the average time spent in a marketing role and the time required to see financial payback on marketing communications.

We’ve all had to try to reconcile the tension between a consumer and pop culture environment characterized by speed, novelty, and fad, and the need to build and sustain long-term memory structures.

And of course we’ve all from time to time encountered the tension that exists between the need to build and sustain those long-term memory structures, and the impatience and occasional fickleness of creative imaginations.

The risk of digital immediacy

The tension between the long-term and the short-term is an old and familiar one. But the lure of the short-term is now being exacerbated by the possibilities of digital interactions.

The glory and thrill of all things digital for normal people in the real world is (amongst other things) that they make things immediate.

Immediate communications. Immediate information. Immediate answers. Immediate purchasing. Immediate feedback. Immediate consumption. Immediate gratification.

But when it comes to marketing communications, these digital interactions and the new forms of marketing communications they enable, bring real and enormous risk if not managed well.

For digital interactions encourage a prizing of immediacy and a thinking in the short-term that is fundamentally at odds with how branding builds real, significant, and sustainable growth for businesses.

Digital immediacy brings with it immediacy of data. Whether it’s views, likes, shares, +1s, pins, comments, tweets, retweets, downloads, linking, following, clicking… however measured, that data invariably measures people’s exposure to and interaction with communications content.

The lure of this data is not only that is it immediately available, but that by its very nature it is highly responsive to communications activity. It is relatively easy to track. And relatively easy to attribute it to communications activity.

But it is short-term data. And short-term data leads to short-term perspectives, short-term objectives and short-term strategies. As Heisenberg taught us, what you choose to measure is what you see.

Digital interactions have also made possible new approaches to connecting with consumers. Real-time responsiveness, ‘always on’ communications, ‘content marketing’, brands as ‘publishers… by their very nature all encourage, if not demand, real-time monitoring.

And with that comes the infrastructure of social media ‘command centers’, ‘dashboards’, monitoring tools, and all the new job titles that come with them.

Again the focus is on the Right Here, Right Now.

The necessity of long-term effects

But for all the opportunities that digital immediacy makes available to us, there is a very real tension between what it is possible to make, and what actually works.  Between digital’s culture of immediacy and how communications actually grows a business.

This conflict between digital immediacy and long-term business-building was brought home to me recently on reading The Long And Short Of It – the latest report from the IPA.  Published last week and authored by Peter Field and Les Binet this is the follow-up to Marketing in the Era of Accountability.

In The Long And Short Of It Field and Binet build on their last round of analysis, incorporating a wealth of new data. Most significant, is the new data on how campaign results develop over time, and the differences between short-term and long-term effects.

Their effectiveness data is derived from the IPA Effectiveness Databank – the product of 301 years of the IPA Effectiveness Awards covering more than 700 brands in over 80 categories. At the time of the analysis, the Databank held data from 996 campaigns entered into the biennial national and international effectiveness competitions from 1980 to 2010.

Never mind all the fashionable stuff that our industry trumpets and that populates the business sections of our bookstores. This is one publication that every marketer should have read.

It is worth briefly highlighting their key findings on the differences between short- and long-term effects. For they carry with them fundamental and indeed urgent implications for us all:

Long-term effects effects work differently from short-term effects

“The way in which long-term effects are generated is fundamentally different from how most short-term effects are produced. Although long-term effects always produce some short-term effects, the reverse is not true and long-term effects are not simply an accumulation of short-term effects.”

Long-term effects aren’t just built out of  short-term effects

“A succession of short-term response-focused campaigns (including promotionally driven ones) will not succeed as strongly over the longer term as a single brand-building campaign designed to achieve year-on-year improvement to business success.”

Long-term effects work through both volume and margin gains

“Pricing improvements are more likely to drive profit growth than volume  growth. Most profitable of all are campaigns that drive both volume and pricing… Their principle characteristic is that incremental volume is achieved whilst strengthening margin, in marked contrast to many short-term campaigns, where volume is achieved at the expense of profitability.”

Profit growth takes time

“Profit growth is a product of volume and pricing increases, so the pattern of profit effects over time is also gradual”

Long-term effects demand brand-building

“The optimum campaign strategy is radically different if success is measured over the short term versus the long term. Achievable short-term goals will be volume-based and favour a direct approach in which immediate behavioural triggers such as discount pricing, an offer or incentive, new product features or some other promotional event, are central. Longer-term goals such as share growth or reduction of price sensitivity favour a ‘brand-building’ approach in which the strengthening of the esteem of the brand is key.”

Digital immediacy versus brand building

For many of those counting social media metrics and short-term communications responses, as well as those advocating marketing programmes characterized by immediacy of interaction, these conclusions should make for some disquieting reading.

For profit growth isn’t achieved in the short-term. Nor indeed, is it built out of joining up of a series of short-term successes.

Views, likes, shares and all the myriad of other possible interactions with communications content count for naught unless they are shifting brand responses. As Byron Sharp has written, what matters are the long-term memory structures in the mind that branding builds, sustains, and refreshes.

Of course we want people to be exposed to and respond (emotionally and /or behaviourally) to our communications. But ultimately what matters are brand responses, not communications responses. And brand responses take time to build and shift.

What all this means is that digital content cannot escape the strictures and rigours of long-term objective setting.

By all means we should be asking ourselves how our marketing content will generate short-term conversation, social currency, sharing etc., and be monitoring it accordingly.

But we should also be thinking through how that activity will build, sustain, and refresh long term memory structures around our brand. Since it is that – not mere communication exposure and interaction – which is the engine of growth.

So when it comes to monitoring these brand responses, we should be evaluating them accordingly – over the long-term.

Certainly we should recalibrate all those costly tracking studies to report on brand responses on an annual basis, rather than pretend they are valuable as real-time monitoring tools.

Fighting the good fight

Resisting the temptations of short-term thinking and action has always bedeviled our industry. Surrounded as we are by the supply of immediate data, that task is harder today than it has ever been.

In Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, the novelist and cultural observer Douglas Rushkoff has argued that immediacy is more and more the central defining characteristic of our culture:

“Our society has reorientated itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always-on. It’s not a mere speeding up… It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now – So much so that we are beginning to dismiss anything that is not happening right now – and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.”

The world of marketing it would appear, is not immune from this phenomenon. And however much hard work it might be, we must resist the gravitational pull of immediacy.

For marketing’s biggest contribution is felt in the long-term, not the short-term. Nothing that has happened in the last thirty years has done anything to overturn that truth.

However exciting it undoubtedly is, we cannot let digital’s immediacy take our eyes off that prize.


Les Binet & Peter Field, The Long And Short Of It: Balancing Short and Long-Term Marketing Strategies

Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know