What’s On

Innovation for innovation

‘Marketeers who have all the answers will fail!’ Tex Gunning – CEO of global fleet management company LeasePlan – said this two years ago at the opening of the Dutch Effie season. It was a call for experimentation and he wasn’t alone in this appeal. All advertising award shows have in the meantime introduced a fully-fledged innovation category.

Some even differentiate this into categories such as brand innovation, AR&VR and Artificial Intelligence. Start the tape with case films on Fearless Girl, The Next Rembrandt, Ikea Place… and juries collectively swoon.

Love is also blind. While the Cannes Lions juries have not even started yet, standalone innovations and activations already seem to be emerging as the clear favourite. They overshadow the sustainable, long-running campaigns that we seem to get bored with faster than ever. Innovation rocks, consistency sucks. As if it is easier to score a nine once than an eight every year. As if standalone campaign innovations save the day for companies that just manage to keep their heads above water in their red ocean. The interest in experimentation appears to have turned into a bona fide obsession. Because it’s cool shit and consequently goes down a treat at festivals. But it’s also far from the business and often appears to be l’innovation pour l’innovation.

So it’s high time to restore the honour of the consistent brand campaign. Australian marketing professor Mark Ritson wipes the floor with chief gadget officers, digital natives and techno porn: ‘It’s all total fcking horseshit!’ This isn’t because he doesn’t believe in the value of innovation, digital, data, VR and AR. But because he looks solely at what’s best for the business. Interested in innovation without being ashamed of commerce and traditional methods. You can do one thing without giving up something else or, worse yet, demonising it. Effectiveness first. Ritson consequently swears by ‘the boring middle path’. Effectively and eclectically combining the best of both worlds. Mass with micro. Fearless Girl with TV. Brand purpose with unadulterated sales. Celebrities with social influencers. Sinek with Sharp. Quinoa with thick fries. That’s not horseshit. It’s fcking modern with the good stuff from the past.

Dick van der Lecq

Dick van der Lecq is the Managing Director at DDB Unlimited. He was previously the Managing Partner at Etcetera.