I don't normally take the freeway home from work. It's typically just a mess. For unknown reasons, I decided to give it a shot last night. It was not as bad as I expected, but there were some areas of nasty gridlock. In one of these jams, I saw something that made me a bit angry; a motorcyclist splitting lanes. Not only was I irked by his action (it's illegal in PA), I was also annoyed that this motorcyclist was performing an act akin to flipping off the other motorists as he sped by.
The rest of my commute went by without incident, but the motorcycle rider and his attitude had me thinking about my work and my responsibilities to my clients. In this frantic and hectic marketplace, our clients all too often want us as marketers to adopt this same way of thinking. Advertising campaigns used to be fairly formulaic - TV spots based on demographic, some sexy print ads, and maybe radio and billboard. As our industry has evolved and we now slap ads on everything, it is a lot more complicated to come up with the right mix. In addition, our clients want us to be the next big viral thing. Our clients are asking us -no, paying us - to flip off the accepted norms.
The unfortunate side-effect of this demand is that we must constantly be on our toes. It is no longer acceptable to copy, mimic, or even borrow from another campaign. If Progressive Insurance were to take their popular Flo character and have her answer answer tweets in real-time on YouTube, it would be a complete failure. That has already been done by Old Spice, and it can never be done again by anyone else. As a result, digital marketing is no longer just about selling the product. Digital Marketing is now a convoluted practice that includes selling the client on your ability to innovate and improvise. After all, sometimes you may have to weave in and out of the safe drivers in order to get where you are really going.