Charles Dickens was right

Good times or bad times for a specific technology shouldn't distract agencies from their creative commitment

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of Hope, it was the winter of Despair…"

Yep, that sounds about right.

Written over 150 years ago by England’s leading Victorian novelist, it has a deep resonance in the choppy waters clients and agencies are trying to navigate nowadays.

Of course there is only one place to be in a world like this — on the side of Netflix, not Blockbuster; of Spotify, not the CD manufacturer; and of Uber, not the yellow cab.

And that’s where it gets tricky. For some.

If you look like an "ad agency" where media has been outsourced, where digital is another company in the "group," where innovation means trying a new young commercials director (!) and where all roads lead to, and from, the creative department, then you have a problem. A really big one.

The thinking behind "media" has become inseparable from "creative" irrespective of who actually trades the dollars, so how can that possibly be outsourced?

Digital is best thought of as a superpower that enables huge transformative solutions to business problems across communications, transactions and product. You seriously don’t want that in your armory when tackling a client brief?

And although a cliché, surely by now we all know that creativity is far, far bigger than a department, and far more fundamental than execution?

The problem isn’t that the many smart people in the business haven’t thought of all this - the problem is the barriers that prevent the necessary change in the form of profit silos, deal structures, ego, fiefdoms and a cultural elitism in agencies that looks down on certain fundamental forms of marketing.

(No surprise we believe timing was our greatest friend as we could start and design Anomaly for a different world rather than struggle with crippling change management issues).

What’s required to drive through change is courage, vision, urgency and sheer willpower; how present they are in the leadership team determines the path, the city, to which you travel, and whether you will be enjoying the "best of times" or the "worst of times."

Carl Johnson is founder and global CEO of Anomaly.

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