Wanted: Ideas

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It seems to me that the marketing-technology revolution, particularly in new media, has so far been driven by technology people rather than creative people.

While I truly respect the people who have brought us these new forms of media (and the endless possibilities offered by the Internet, streaming video and digital film), I can't help but think about the missed opportunities-the missed ideas-that have come and gone while the arena has been predominantly tech-inspired, rather than, well, inspired. Now before you dismiss me as a technophobe, please let me explain why it is time for technology to align more closely with creative.

When we produce traditional TV commercials we go to great lengths to find the best creative talent to execute (and improve on) our ideas.

However, with Web sites and other forms of new media, creatives and producers at present seem to accept technology's limitations, rather than exploring and demanding creative solutions to these problems. I imagine Web developers might disagree, but let's take the example of banner ads. When we learned that they weren't effective, what was proposed as a solution? Make them bigger. My point is, why should we let technology dictate creative?

One reason for this may be that creative people have not yet stepped up to the creative challenges posed by the technology now in front of us. We are awed by technology for technology's sake. As creatives, it is time for us to seize this opportunity to map out the future-after all, we inherited traditional advertising from past generations, and look how far we have come.

I've sat in meetings where people talk about how great a Web site is, but I'm sorry to say I hardly ever agree with others in the room. Most of the time, we have just merged press and TV advertising techniques for this medium. And have you ever heard of anyone praising wireless executions? Again, think of the lost idea.

We've been saying so for years now, but we truly must learn to think outside the parameters of traditional disciplines. This new world is about alignment and cross-pollination between creatives, producers and digital experts and designers. Think of what could be accomplished if we meld the creative powers of the digitally innovative with those of the idea crafters. After all, commercials have been in part responsible for vast developments in film stock, cameras and postproduction techniques over the years. We can have the same impact on emerging technologies.

In my mind, it is about the people-working in cooperation-to foster the idea. Technology is the means, not the message.

I regularly question producers about the future of advertising to get their perspectives on what we can do to reshape production in these new areas. Many of them demonstrate their extensive knowledge of the technology trends and "buzzwords" of the day, talking about all things digital or interactive. But rarely do they talk about the ideas and ways to keep them at the center of what we do.

Bottom line: We must get production far more involved in creative development and production solutions for all media.

Jonathan Davis is senior VPdirector of TV production for Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

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