Ad Industry 'Dinosaurs' Aren't Extinct; We're Adapting

Advent of Digital Wasn't a Killer Asteroid

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Derek Walker
Derek Walker
I am dinosaur, hear me roar.

But don't be fooled, my roar is nothing compared to my bite.

I know with your technology and digital you think you're smarter and faster than me. Keep thinking that.

Allow me to educate you to what this dinosaur knows. I was hatched during a time when TV was king. Back in those days we had 30 seconds to tell a story that connected and resonated with people, that evoked emotion and drove response. It was a hard and brutal time -- many of my nest mates didn't make it.

But I grew strong.

I learned from watching and listening to the other dinosaurs as they hunted across the business plains. It was glorious to see the strategies and methods they employed. They were big and powerful but many moved with blinding speed and accuracy. I learned that these were apex predators, kings and queens of their realm.

I cut my teeth on having to talk to people through media that was nothing like today. Sure, it seemed one way in its communication but it only "seemed" that way. Great concepts and strong executions, I learned, could create a conversation even through print or on TV or radio. It required more thought and understanding of my prey. It demanded that I perfect my skills. My concepts had to touch something inside of people, my headlines along with great design had to stop people quick -- when we struck, we had to be fast and efficient.

Out here on the plains of business, there was only room for dinosaurs that knew how to stalk and when to attack. If you missed an opportunity, you went hungry. Kill or starve.

I know this sounds brutal and primitive, but it wasn't. Don't let the lack of technology lull you into thinking that we dinosaurs were not elegant in what we did. We elevated our hunting to an art -- we learned to walk like our prey, to talk like them, to look like them, to think like them. Even more, we convinced them that they were exactly like us, and they were. They became us and we became them.

And that made us unbelievably dangerous. You just can't see it now. You misjudge how deep our talents and abilities run. You're too busy laughing and ridiculing us. But understand -- please take a moment to grasp -- that for my fellow dinosaurs and myself this digital age is no killer asteroid. It is like a new hunting ground has opened up. And the prey is so unaware of how dangerous we are. They don't even run away anymore.

Digital has not destroyed us. It has exposed a whole new hunting ground.

You've enjoyed having your run of this new plain but you are running out of time -- we're learning the lay of the land. And where we may not possess your technological skills and understanding today, we are learning. In your arrogance, you do not understand that our skills and talents don't slow us down out here on the digital plains, it makes us even more dangerous -- we are still hunters.

Idea conception, copywriting and art direction are seeing a rebirth in this realm. People are flocking to online videos that are nothing more than long-format TV; folks are reading and passing along copy that is crafted with care and insight; and art direction and design is being celebrated and honored all over the digital realm. Storytelling and conversations are seeing a renaissance, and since we dinosaurs grew up in an age of storytelling and conversations, we don't have to learn it, we already know it. We know how to invoke emotion, how to connect with human beings. And we did this within the limitations of print, TV and radio. What do you think we are going to do with digital?

Take a look around, there are more and more dinosaurs creating on the web every day. It's what we do -- migrate to better hunting grounds.

Yes, I'm a dinosaur.

I believe that strong concepts executed with solid copy and great design can catch and hold people's attention long enough to open a conversation, and because we are used to thinking and feeling like our prey, our conversations feel real and honest to them.

Keeping laughing and thinking that my kind and I are slow and dumb, but before you know it we will have shown you why we have survived so long. There is still plenty of hunting in us.

Keeping laughing. There's been no asteroid, no mass extinction.

I am dinosaur, hear me roar.

Derek Walker is the janitor, secretary and mailroom person for his tiny agency, brown and browner advertising based in Columbia, S.C.
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