We’d like to diagnose your failure to perform in this culture of perpetual change, while also throwing you some accolades for your noble effort, The Inventionist.
Digital revolutionaries, like Bud Caddell, former head of your group Inventionist, have spent years bouncing between stale organizational structures. On the client side, traditional operating models won't budge. And on the Ad Agency side, the problem is exactly the same, except it’s dressed up in a cloak of Cannes Lions, Fast Co. articles, and a sexy pants suit.
Passionate digital talent like Mike and I, and like Bud, have become misfits. On the surface, we're amongst the most coveted talent of recruitment departments across the board -- purebred digitally native thinkers/doers. But in the workplace, whether client boardroom or agency war room, we found ourselves spouting genius strategies (brand, product, mobile, digital, social, app, Ux, you name it) into a black hole of “this ain’t ever gonna fuckin' get done.”
Outcome of the stalemate shuffle, you ask? Mike and I had to leave Omnicom. We were determined to find a better way to create compelling, innovate communications work for traditional structures that stood in the way of their own progress. We formed KIMBA, a firm with a name so unique, it can’t be tied down to any one concept. We knew we’d have to be that agile and dynamic - advancing at the rate of consumer behavior, technology, and the marketplaces they define.
The irony is that about 6 months before mustering the courage to jump Omnicom ship, we likely would have applied for one of the Inventionist’s funky job openings – Inventions Architect, Thought Leader, Results Magician, Solutions Incubator, Sex God. We would have bought the hype – the site design, the infographics, the new human science philosophies, the boundless optimism of theories yet to be proven. We would have guzzled the hope Kool-Aid -- the hope that a traditional creative leader like Deutsch could truly become DIGITAL.
But, alas, we didn’t bite. Instead, we made the jump and have been trudging in the weeds with our client partners since last September. Baruch Hashem.
What we want to share with you, Deutsch, is our own philosophy built from personal experience. It is that the real 'invention' needed by businesses (and your clients) isn’t sexy. It really isn’t. It can’t be sold or defined by a tagline or typeface. It can’t be summarized in a venn diagram. It isn’t idyllic. It's actually not even an 'invention.'
We call it a Transformation. Business Transformation. It’s rough and gritty. It involves humility, a real dedication, and a collaborative partnership commitment from both the consulting firm and the client. It involves not being written up in Mashable.
Here, we hit a wall. Agency talent is creative and driven by a hunger to make good work. Sexy work. Award-winning sexy work. But no! No more, we say! We have to put a stop to the making of shiny objects. No more noise. No more fanning the flames! No more avoiding our clients' true needs.
So, the diagnosis:
Addiction to making sexy things and addiction to being a part of the sexy thing. Addicted to image -- to smoke and mirrors.
We can blame our client partners all day long for being stubborn, uncreative, and demanding for all the wrong things. However, they are not the true culprits, here. It is us, the agency talent, that continue to peddle expensive buzzservices like 'social media campaigns' and 'branded video content' to marketing departments who are being held to sales numbers and scrutinized more closely than any other department in their organization. If we spent nearly half our efforts engineering true business solutions, and using our creative abilities to help these organizations, we'd be much further along by now.
Instead, you're stuck in a cycle where you can't justify your bulky overhead without selling in the same services and solutions that are no longer relevant in today's market and with the modern consumer -- the brand adverse modern consumer.
KIMBA's rallying cry starts with the honest admission that WE are to blame. We must first admit the harm we've caused in perpetuating the myth of the passive consumer and our desire to create hype instead of help.
Our clients are in need of our service and strategy more than ever before. We underestimate their analytical abalities when we communicate to them through venn diagrams and sexy sinusoidal curves. We have to stop blaming them for being risk-adverse, when we've been lazy and risk-dodging, ourselves. Let's try entrusting newer leaders with longterm visions, re-evaluating our top heavy management structures, questioning our over-dependency on media agencies, focusing on the means, not the ends.
We're writing because we love you, Deutsch. Because we want you to live. You were what inspired us to get in this business in the first place. But it ain't lookin' good for you right now -- an inability to retain your best and brightest digital leaders being a prominent symptom.
Let's be real. Let's evolve. The time has come and we have the brains and resource to guide affect true Digital Transformation.
Rebecca & Mike