Every second of every day, around the world, seven new people are jumping onto the Internet. Seven people a second, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. As of January, there were 153 million users worldwide. Sometime mid-next decade, the number of Internet users is expected to reach 1 billion.
But, as enormous as these numbers are, they are just numbers. The Internet and its impact are far more enormous than numbers.
The Internet is the most global and the most revolutionary communication medium in history. The Internet changes advertising, it changes marketing and it changes the very nature of business. The Internet puts branding and selling at the very center of business strategy.
OUR NEW WORLD
The days of creating a business, then a marketing plan and then asking "What is the advertising idea?" are numbered. In our New World, we need to begin the creative process with a more fundamental question. Not "what is the advertising idea?" but "what is the business idea?"
Advertising is no longer about big, creative advertising ideas. It's about big, creative business ideas-integrated creative ideas that unite the forces of communication and technology to help define businesses and brands.
But I worry that myopic and self-limiting traditional advertising industry beliefs about the Internet are driving creativity and technology apart. For example:
* The Internet is just another medium that slides into place alongside all other media without changing those other media.
* If you have an interactive shop or division, you're in the interactive business.
* If you create corporate Web sites or do banner advertising, you're in the interactive business.
* The Internet is the province of technocrats.
* Real creatives don't do Net.
Advertising today is far too important to be left to traditional advertising and traditional beliefs-and our clients know it. A recent study found more than two out of three multinational advertisers want more fully integrated creative capabilities, capabilities that put the Internet at the very center of what we do.
That means blowing apart the barriers that separate the best creative people in advertising and our Net experts. It means breaking down the very real walls in our companies. It is about totally integrated creative business ideas executed across all media.
There are companies that really understand the power of integrated creative ideas as business strategies. Some examples are Victoria's Secret, Yahoo!, Intel Corp. and Virgin Group.
Victoria's Secret is a great example of brand and business creation through integrated creative use of all media.
Yahoo! was founded on the idea of one single Web site, one single brand that can provide a simple way to organize all Web sites into coherent categories. Yahoo! is now the Internet's most trafficked site.
Last week, it was named Internet company of the year at Cannes.
Intel's big creative idea was, in a sense, just to have a brand in the first place. Intel took users inside their PCs and created a household brand: "Intel inside." Intel was one of the first movers on the Internet: It uses the Net for customer service, marketing and developing direct customer relationships. Every part of Intel's communication-brand advertising, co-op advertising, promotion and the Internet-builds holistically on its brand and Internet positioning-a business strategy far bigger than a creative strategy.
ADVERTISER OF THE YEAR
And Virgin. The advertiser of the year here at Cannes. With Virgin, it's a little easier to recognize there is a big, integrated idea than to say exactly what the idea is.
First Virgin was a music company . . . then an international airline . . . then a cola . . . and now an online bank. . . . What's at the core of the Virgin brand is a lifestyle, a perspective on the world. Virgin is the brand with great brand attitude. Virgin is a huge, integrated, creative business idea.
If you think of a traditional advertising model, we have market research that leads to the strategy, then the strategy that leads to the media and creative and to the advertising itself.
But between the wisdom of strategy and the effectiveness of advertising there is a gap.
Within that gap is the magic of creativity-the magic that carries a strategy and makes it important and relevant and memorable to consumers.
A NEW MODEL FOR TODAY
But today we need a new model-a model that makes it clear the role of creativity is no longer just to bridge this gap but to help build integrated creative ideas that invent and define brands, and invent and define businesses-creative ideas using the new mix of new media in ways never imagined.
To be successful, we must break down the barriers between technology and creativity so that integrated creative ideas can flourish. We must refocus our most brilliant creative thinking on much bigger issues than just ads, commercials, banners or Web sites. We have to think about our clients' businesses and our own business in much bigger, much deeper ways.
It's an enormous opportunity for advertising to redefine its relevance and its