The UnConference and the UnAdvertising Direction We're Headed

What Would Happen if You Brought the Same Peer-to-Peer Approach to Improving Your Agency?

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Bart Cleveland
Bart Cleveland
The One Show festival includes the Creative unConference, a two-day gathering of advertising professionals discussing and sharing things that are pertinent to our industry. It is as casual as it is rich in information. Some of the industry's sharpest minds gave their time to the rest of us. Some of them were still in school. That's the beauty of an unconference. Anyone can lead a session instead of the traditional lineup of topical experts anyone can name and scheduled one-hour session topics. I admit I was skeptical of the worth of such an approach. After all, shouldn't we be listening to our industry's biggest hotshots?

There actually were some hotshots there, and they held sessions that were extremely helpful. Then they would sit in the next session and someone else would lead the discussion. This peer-to-peer approach made the experience seem genuine and altruistic in a sense, and it was an incredible amount of fun. I hope The One Club continues the unConference, and I also hope they won't let it grow into something more traditional and lose the visceral nature of its approach.

The unConference made me wonder if my agency could use the same approach to improvement. We agency leaders typically see ourselves as the trainers. If employees could set up a training session in your agency, what topic do you think they would choose? If you allowed such sessions, would there be a great variety of subjects or would they all be centered on one particular area of development or improvement on which your agency needs to focus? I'm sure having an agency unconference would be enlightening no matter how much a shop already has its act together.

A meeting of the minds and a discernment of needed improvements are of no use if action isn't taken. I believe we are pretty good at self-analysis, but change is difficult. Habits die hard. It takes humility on the part of the owners of the agency to make changes themselves if there is any hope of improvement.

Some say our industry is in chaos. That may be technically true. But I think it is in a positive state of evolution, the most dramatic since television became available to the masses. That wasn't a negative when it was happening, though people who didn't embrace it were impacted negatively.

This evolutionary stage is making creativity in marketing more important than it has ever been. Agencies that take advantage of this evolution by embracing it are going to enjoy the future in a way we have not seen since the golden age of advertising. You can call this the age of unAdvertising. But if you think it is going to be Uncreative, you are mistaken.

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