maandag 31 maart 2008

what if....the final frontier?


Watching a very interesting documentary about the US Army. It deals with the fact that the US army is in the midst of a great transition and overhaul of it's purpose.

Since Jalta there was a cold war to be won. This created an arms race to see who had more military might (mind you this a vast simplification). Since the fall of the wall, the war had ended.

This also presented the US army with new set of problems that still have not been fixed as we speak. 40 years or so of training your troops of fighting a big enemy who is most likely to attack with great might created a mind set that was focused on a finite all out war (it seems that the experience of vietnam, where fighting an guerillia war resulted in a disaster, did not alter the paradigm thinking that big war was a thing of the past).

Oh yeah and thanks to 80' movies and the kidnapping of born in the usa the image of the USA of being the place to go was also on point.

The fall of an enemy also upset the moral balance. Democracy became a non negotioable argument, instead of a desirable means, when dealing with foreign regimes. This is easy to understand why, as research shows that democracies tend not to fight other democracies. they tend to fight autocracies, dictatorships etc.. So moral superiority is around the corner

So enter the 90's and beyond, what u got is a one punch boxer who has not been seriously challenged for a long time and convinced of his superiority. But as the movie quote goes: " You're a big man, but you're in bad shape."

A new landscape emerged where one is not fighting armies, but human mobs, movements, cells. non liniar/military enteties, without the " rationale" conventions that governs western military thinking.

So the US/west right now is able to win every war. The problem off course is that, it's not about armies winning the war, but about governements winning peace.

It's not about the question of how to execute (excuse the entendre) something..it's become a question of why to execute something, uncovering the insights that best lead to a strategy that allows for great execution to fullfil it's natural role. That's were the new test lies. If you do not understand the motives of why some one does what they do, how can u then try to form a counter/prevention to their chosen execution of their motives?

So the what if of this long post is this: Is the military industry the final frontier for Account Planning?

Stretching the analogy, but AP has had to deal with approximately same conditions. Big giants corporations that first were used to go: " let's get our add on the Super Bowl, make it the sexiest, funniest ad ever with the best USP and we win the consumer from target group, because he is a rationale buyer".

Post modernism, social change, internet, 2.0 among other things have knocked this Big guy/corporation down for an 8 count. No longer does he have to win the war against other brands, no.. he is now facing an enemy who plays by his own rules, the human being who happens to consume. He does not care that you have the biggest budgets, best ads. You are not what he wants. He is (more or less)in control. All in all adland has been in quite some chaos, overflown by tech changes like tidal waves. Insight now more then ever has been key. ideas, not ads ( mere weapons) matter. We now know that irrationality, and messy decisions are what's what.

If AP can help design Jumbo jets, create healtier lifestyles, and make green cool, could it have a a part to play in helping western military thinking adapt the this new chaotic world?

Simply saying that AP's are not qualified, is not an argument, what makes you qualified to introduce medical products, talk about eco solutions? Like a good movie producer, AP's at their best are blank slates, able to spot the difference and help move organisations along...

Wag the dog did it in a movie, and only with regards to the PR part of a "war"...could it be done for real and all the way? should it be done? Business as usual or does emotion play a part ?

5 opmerkingen:

Cynical Rob zei

Funnily enough we've actually designed non-harmful Military Hardware for the British Ministry of Defence so your post is not so out-of-the-question interms of where planning can go.

niko zei

Damn you Campbell.... I hope Trucks becomes the biggest hit since Lovemarks ;-)


But how far would you go? Would you also do planning that involved military actions as well, like support the miliraty planners in making sure their campaigns with regards to hearts and minds as well with regards to deployement of troops? Because that's where I think AP would have real value.

Cynical Rob zei

If we refused to work with tobacco companies, you can be sure as hell we'll never do anything that kills people - even our NASA contract dictates we only deal with their space projects, not their military hardware creation, despite that being where the majority of their R&D investment is.

For an ad agency, we sort-of have morals ;)

niko zei

I can feel that point of view. A man's gotta have some honour and dignity.

But as an intelectual challenge it would be stimulating.

So would you then ever run a campaign for McCain?

It seems thats were the fun is going to be, as far as framing, comms and winning is? it's a great brief: help the bad guy win against great odds

Cynical Rob zei

You're right - interms of challenge tobacco and weaponary would be great - but I need to sleep at night and I just couldn't do it which means I'll never run a company as big as WPP. Thank God.