To Hegel with your creative dreams
In my curmudgeonly middle age I find myself disagreeing with thinkers like Chase Jarvis, who you can read about on page 17. He is older than me but talks like a millennial, and says that we can all be what we want to be.
This mirrors a article I was reading recently about proponents of ‘Fire’. That’s an acronym for financial independence, retire early. It refers to extreme saving and financial planning to let us quit our jobs in our 30s. I’ll admit I’m a bit bitter I didn’t read it some years ago.
The concedes that Fire tends to favour the better off; it’s a lot harder for a shelf stacker to retire at 35 than it is for a banker.
The problem I have is with the smugness attached to doing one’s own thing. Those practising Fire or living a new-found creative life don’t necessarily lord it over the rest of us, but they often sport a lack of consideration, like queue jumpers in traffic. They want what they want, and who cares about everyone else? Self interest takes priority over responsibility to the greater good.
The 18th century German philosopher Georg Hegel says that any status quo (or ‘thesis’, in his phrasology), such as – in this case – rigid society, will produce an ‘antithesis’. In this case, that is overly individualistic hipsters, populist leaders and Fire-breathers. But out of conflict between the two comes a ‘synthesis’, some sort of happy medium. Such is the process of change, according to Hegel.
On page 14, I have written about how Wavemaker is changing. It adheres to a more Darwinian philosophy, though, with the two agency chiefs I spoke to arguing for survival of the most nimble in a fast- changing market.
The fixation at Wavemaker on agility is akin to Jarvis’s belief that “this idea of getting on a path and having to stick it out is a narrative that is no longer true”.
However, Wavemaker’s flexibility is geared towards helping its clients, done in the service of others rather than – apart from in a businesssurvival sense – itself.
WPP is shaking up the status quo within the many agencies it holds. Wavemaker is a merger of MEC and Maxus; last month we saw VML wed to Y& R, and our lead news story in this issue is that a merger with Wunderman means the end to 154 years of the J Walter Thompson agency name.
Perhaps those mergers are the antithetical reaction to an outdated status quo. And perhaps the new, combined but flexible agencies are the synthesis that will drive our industry forward.
Will they be staffed by followers of Chase Jarvis, lifting the bushels from their creative lamps?
And will I be as grumpily jealous of them?