Fear, hate, change: what a Trump victory means for adland

Triumphs for Trump and Brexit expose the need to change our approach and upgrade our business model, says Grey London's CEO.

"Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration."*

Fear is the mind-killer and it is the progress killer. It kills our creativity and unchecked, it will kill our business.

Not doubt this week, once again, we’ll set ourselves against hate. We will distance ourselves from the unthinking majority. But instead of retreating, maybe it’s time to take a leaf from their book. Maybe we too should find some hate. 

What do I hate? I hate the forces of conservatism, of lazy habit and the fear of the Other that have allowed us to sleepwalk into this mess. Fear of The Female Other, The Muslim Other, The Jewish, African-American, Hispanic, Working Class Other.

Brexit and Trump have sent tremors through our society and have shown us the risks of carrying blithely on. They have shown us what happens when we ignore the powerful forces of disruption bubbling away underneath.

Now their anger has forced our hand. So how much are we missing, as a society and an industry, as we sit here in our echo chambers? There’s nothing so comforting as groupthink.

Our filter bubbles lock us away from the angry desires of millions we thought we knew. From the raw and real perspectives of those outside our curated, comfortable and conservative world.

Because whether we like to admit it or not, we are conservative. Take a look around. Our people look the same, they say the same things, they follow the same fashions. No wonder our work looks the same. We must recognise that this is what the slow death of our business looks like.

So what should we be for? Now we must draw on our deepest resources and on our most open creativity to solve real problems and start a true dialogue with the ‘other’.  

We need to think about the future of our industry in a more open way. We need to overcome the built-in biases that limit our creative thinking and fuel the chasm between belief and truth. 

We need to change our approach and upgrade our business model. We need to embrace friction and reject the status quo. That means seeking out the outliers and the oddballs to bring new ideas and challenge us.

Our world does not have to descend into fascism and unthinking conformity. But that will only happen if we tear off our blinkers and embrace the future with defiant optimism.

* Frank Herbert wrote this for the film Dune. One of my favourite quotes.

Leo Rayman is the chief executive of Grey London.

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