Our sto­ries are on life-sup­port, where do we go from here? —


ArabAd - - CONTENTS - By Thomas Kol­ster

The busi­ness of sto­ry­telling is a very thank­ful busi­ness, whether it’s a Hol­ly­wood script, a piece of in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism or a 30-sec­ond com­mer­cial. As al­ways, it’s about the nar­ra­tive, the good story but like the teenage girl re­tak­ing self­ies un­til it’s pose per­fect, we have all be­come sto­ry­tellers try­ing to am­plify the right story about our­selves to the world.

It seems like the roles are be­ing re­served. Girls be­ing savvy com­mu­ni­ca­tors and brands be­hav­ing like grass root ac­tivists. There is prob­a­bly a hip­pie or two from my dad’s gen­er­a­tion, that’s shaken in dis­be­lief as big com­pa­nies and con­glom­er­ates to­day like Mcdon­ald’s or Henkel sud­denly speak up for the in­jus­tices in our so­ci­ety call it cor­po­rate ac­tivism or call it good­ver­tis­ing. The Times They Are a-changin’ as Bob Dy­lan chimed in 1964 launch­ing a global protest song. But are we in ad­ver­tis­ing ready for that peo­ple-pow­ered change?

Busi­ness is ev­ery­body’s busi­ness

“When power bal­ances shift, rev­o­lu­tion or trans­for­ma­tion hap­pens. The power of the peo­ple is greater than the peo­ple in power!” ex­claimed Egyp­tian Internet ac­tivist, Wael Ghonim, dur­ing the Arab spring. With busi­ness be­com­ing ev­ery­body’s busi­ness, there’s an in­creas­ing pres­sure on cut­ting through the noise of con­ver­sa­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The mo­nop­oly of sto­ry­telling is chal­lenged when ev­ery­body armed with a smart­phone can spread a good story that con­tests the so­cial, cul­tural or eco­nomic elite at light­ning speed. This surge in quan­tity and qual­ity of con­tent un­de­ni­ably re­veals real gold nuggets that stand up to the power-elites, but also chal­lenges us in the busi­ness such as the #Metoo-move­ment in 2017, which hi­jacked the at­ten­tion of all. It’s say­ing that the big­gest com­mu­ni­ca­tion cam­paign from 2017 mak­ing it to the cover of Time Mag­a­zine didn’t even come from the ad in­dus­try it­self, but a faceless move­ment of women. Or take Movem­ber (the char­ity cre­at­ing at­ten­tion and fundrais­ing to com­bat tes­tic­u­lar cancer); they un­der­stood a de­cen­tral­ized com­mu­ni­ca­tion model and em­pow­ered ev­ery­body to co-

Put your cre­ative ego aside and start em­brac­ing a new par­a­digm, be­cause your story – or your idea – is chal­lenged not by your peers at the next Dubai Lynx only mea­sured in the thou­sands, but by bil­lions of peo­ple around this globe, that are all sto­ry­tellers and in­no­va­tors.

cre­ate and co-play with their cheer­ful beard-grow­ing-ac­tiv­i­ties. To­day it’s one of the globe’s most vis­i­ble com­mu­ni­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties and Movem­ber has turned into big player in the non-profit world. It’s no longer about cam­paigns; it’s about plat­forms that em­pow­ers and un­leashes peo­ple’s cre­ativ­ity and in­ten­si­fies their voices. Even the power-elites seem to cir­cum­vent the tra­di­tional me­dia chan­nels and opt for so­cial me­dia or whistle­blower sites, when they have an agenda that goes against the in­sti­tu­tions, with no bet­ter (or worse) an ex­am­ple than Mr. Trump.

Count those im­pact ap­ples

I judge a fair share of im­pact and do-good awards over the year. To be per­fectly hon­est, for the most part, they’re gim­micks. What I miss are those ex­cit­ing stand­out so­lu­tions I see from the sus­tain­abil­ity-nerd-club where peo­ple are us­ing cof­fee waste to grow suc­cess­ful mush­room busi­nesses, as if it was the most nat­u­ral thing to do. We need to re­fo­cus from short-ter­mist sales re­sults, su­per­fi­cial so­cial me­dia met­rics and click­bait cam­paigns to re­alise change can­not be com­pared to a click or a Youtube thumbs up. We need a dis­cus­sion around real change met­rics – what about tons of emis­sions or lives saved? Road ac­ci­dents pre­vented? Ki­los of ex­tra waste col­lected? Be­hav­iour changed?

If we as an in­dus­try are to be taken se­ri­ously as agents of change these met­rics need to be an in­cre­men­tal part of ev­ery brief: how can you mea­sure or quan­tify the im­pact of your ini­tia­tive or cam­paign?

In­vite dif­fer­ence in­side – hire a farmer

We are blinded by our own ge­nius, and af­ter all those com­mer­cials that have made mil­lions of peo­ple laugh and moved mar­ket shares by the truck­loads, who can blame us? It is this same van­ity that stands in the way of tack­ling the com­plex sus­tain­abil­ity prob­lems that de­mand col­lab­o­ra­tion, not egos. We are the cre­ative army of uni­formly black-clad mar­ket­ing types that stand in stark con­trast to the eco-en­tre­pre­neur (read: farmer) in boots ar­gu­ing halo­phyte agri­cul­ture can be the saviour of the food cri­sis. We should not only think dif­fer­ent, but dare to in­vite dif­fer­ence into agen­cies and mar­ket­ing de­part­ments.

Ready to com­pete with a bil­lion peo­ple?

It’s been a great year for Good­ver­tis­ing in the re­gion with the Dubai Lynx award­ing their high­est ac­co­lades - the Grand Prix – to more cam­paigns than ever be­fore like #SHEDRIVES for Nis­san Saudi Ara­bia by TBWA\RAAD, Dubai, UAE, “The World’s Most El­i­gi­ble Bach­e­lor” for Ol Pe­jeta Con­ser­vancy by Ogilvy & Mather Africa, Nairobi, Kenya or “The Woman Be­hind the Veil” for Al Ra­jhi Bank by FP7/RUH, Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia. This is an ap­plaud­able de­vel­op­ment that brands dare to stand up and the agen­cies be­gin to think big­ger! But we’re not there yet – by far. As an in­dus­try we can do so much more to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety – not just through sto­ry­telling – but by truly chang­ing what ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing can be.

A cam­paign that caught my at­ten­tion was “One-drop Bot­tle”, for Henkel by TBWA\RAAD, Dubai, UAE. It’s a tough bal­anc­ing act; is it worth cre­at­ing a waste­ful pack­ag­ing stunt to get peo­ple to save soap? I guess a few tons of ex­tra plas­tic are worth sac­ri­fic­ing for a po­ten­tial lower wa­ter foot­print and soap us­age. As peo­ple work­ing in this lovely in­dus­try of ours we have yet mas­sive power, but if we don’t man­age this power re­spon­si­bly, peo­ple will be turn­ing their backs on us – like we now see in­creas­ingly in most Western mar­kets. Your voice mat­ters, but by the end of the day, you have to make work that truly makes a (mea­sure­able) dif­fer­ence.

Put your cre­ative ego aside and start em­brac­ing a new par­a­digm, be­cause your story – or your idea – is chal­lenged not by your peers at the next Dubai Lynx only mea­sured in the thou­sands, but by bil­lions of peo­ple around this globe, that are all sto­ry­tellers and in­no­va­tors. Are you ready to out­cry and out­think the new bil­lion-peo­ple-com­pe­ti­tion?

Thomas Kol­ster, aka Mr. Good­ver­tis­ing is a man on a mis­sion, one of the early pi­o­neers in the do-good space coin­ing the term ‘Good­ver­tis­ing’ to de­scribe the chang­ing ad­ver­tis­ing land­scape that’s be­come a move­ment in it­self. As a sea­soned ad­ver­tis­ing...

Henkel’s One-drop Bot­tle

#SHEDRIVES for Nis­san Saudi Ara­bia

Al Ra­jhi Bank

Ol Pe­jeta Con­ser­vancy

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