Ever notice those stores at the mall that are “Just Socks” or “Just Calendars” and low and behold, you go in there and it is really just socks or just calendars? While that might be a great strategy for kiosks at a mall, the advertising world also seems to be going this way. There’s “Just Interactive,” “Just Social Media” and “Just Guerilla.”
This all works if there’s someone watching over the whole thing, but somehow campaigns that are created piecemeal often are missing an overall idea. You can’t work in this business effectively anymore without seeing the big picture. Interactive has to include social media and to jumpstart the whole thing you still may need a print campaign or a television spot. Buying all this piecemeal is popular, but for how long? Not only is it a lot of organizational work for clients, but it’s very hard to get everything to fit together.
What this means for all of us is that we have to be big picture people. Sure, we all have specialties when it gets down to production, but at the beginning of a project we need bigger ideas and then we literally have to ask the idea what it needs. Is this an idea that needs awareness quickly? Is the sale made at the point of purchase or is the decision made over a long period of time? What is the purchase cycle? Etc”¦
These are all questions that have been around long before web 2.0 or web 3.0 and will still be around when web 6.25 comes around. But now, more than ever we need thinking that encompasses a broader scope of ideation. People have to be experts at something narrow but have to be able to work conceptually in an increasingly broader range. So while specialization is getting narrower, the need for big thinking is getting broader. We, and our specialized partners (yes, there are some narrow specialties needed) have to be big-picture people.
So, I believe the age of narrow specialization, the “Just Socks” model, while attractive to some clients, is counter to great branding and advertising. That’s because the socks have to go with the outfit. And it helps if you wear some shoes too. Agencies have to take the role of the personal shopper who figures out what clothing the brand has to wear and then finds the pieces that match.