'Corporations don't own modern brands, consumers do' - try telling that to shareholders or venture capitalists. Consumers- let's call them customers or people - decide your fate, they don't reap the profits, and don't think about brands enough to even merit the word 'relationship'.
'Brands today are conversations' - true in the sense that a minority of strange people might spend time talking about a brand/with a brand, but they make up a tiny fraction of commercial sales, while the people that growth and the big numbers come from, they indifferently get on with their lives. Just maybe, a decent amount of might notice the brand more, thanks to this minority doing stuff.
‘It’s all about content’ – well this is actually true, it always was. If you have nothing of value to add to what people are already doing, or your stuff isn’t good enough to merit your interruption, there’s little point. That’s not the same as the modern way of thinking though - the current fixation with the ‘build and they will come’ content model, or really entertaining stuff that’s not relevant to what the brand makes or does. Even worse if it’s nothing to do with any hard commercial objectives. That said, relevance can be overrated. People don’t need to rationally accept whatever you’re doing/saying/demonstrating, because they don’t buy that way. But if it feels intuitively wrong, or it doesn’t make sense somehow, if they can’t see the point, you have wasted your time.
‘Modern brand storytelling needs to leave lots of space for people to put the story together themselves in their own way’ – now, as Gossage said, “If you’re going to lay a mousetrap, leave some room for the mouse’. That was always true. In terms of culture, even more so these days. The entertainment we all enjoy has become more complex, less linear and asks more of us in terms of filling gaps in plots etc.
Now there are limits even in popular culture. I give you exhibit A, the initially brilliant Lost. At first most loved the big questions, they loved debating what was going on. It was good. But then it got so complicated it seemed that not even the writers knew what was going on – and the ratings plummeted to the point only the die-hards stayed until the end.
There are limits to the complexity we will accept in culture, even in a world where The Dark Knight and Interstellar can succeed as blockbusters.
Which brings us to brands and back to that point about conversations.
Most people cannot be bothered to work it out, let alone talk to anyone about it. Of course, any modern campaign needs to be respectful to the grammar of the media it’s in. Your creative really shouldn’t be the same everywhere. For example, you need to front load your message and brand attributes on a YouTube pre-roll before folks click away, while you can still afford the big reveal in a linear TV ad. But that’s about people noticing and accepting your stuff.
‘The agency model is dead’- which agency model?
If you mean the one where shops that operate in different disciplines try and charge a fortune for selling a process that has a very obvious end, and the output is judges as effective because if the way it’s measured, there are still global corporations making a lot of money with big clients doing exactly this. Their shareholders are not complaining. Even if this might not be the way stuff should be done today, tomorrow or ever.
If you mean the one where clients will pay a hefty fee for genuine creativity and ideas – again in all sorts of agencies, there are still clients that are more than happy to do this, but the thing about the successful agencies, is that there is a lot of hard work and thinking behind the great work. To quote John Hegarty, there is still money there for ‘Intelligence turned into magic’.
If there are fewer who will pay for this kind of work, it’s probably because they’ve invested in agencies that are all for doing the crazy stuff, but not the hard work of understanding what the crazy stuff is supposed to be doing, or if it’s right for the people it’s aimed at.
If you mean the kind who are willing to pay for fantastic service, a groovy reception and being made to feel special, it’s fair to say that world is gone.
The people who say the ‘agency’ model is dead are usually people who are peddling something else. It probably works really well for them, but there are other ways.
Ultimately the agency model is a place where you do stuff for clients they cannot do themselves. I’m not sure this will ever go away.