In a word, yes. Particularly if you believe the brain trust at McKinsey & Co. After a detailed analysis of over 2,000 work activities in more than 800 occupations, combined with data from the US Bureau of Labor statistics, they predict that in the next 20 years, 45 percent of jobs today will be automated out of existence.
Twenty years, 45 percent.
If you watch or read the work of Salim Ismail, you understand that today’s biggest business challenge is adapting our linear mindsets to an environment of exponential change. The pace of change is so fast that our assumptions of what’s known and valid are continually questioned, debunked, and reset. Which can be disorienting.
Consider content. As advertisers migrated from television to digital platforms, the demand for content exploded. Yet many clients’ mindsets remain stuck in TV-era thinking; if we make it, people will watch it.
Today’s media landscape is awash in content. Last July, YouTube’s CEO announced people upload 400 hours of content every minute of every day. That’s over THREE YEARS of video every hour. And that’s just YouTube. Facebook claims to generate 8 billion video views every day, Snapchat does six billion.
Clearly, the game has changed. And keeps changing.
Combine this new reality with the dropping price of computing power and ubiquity of motion graphics software which allows people all over the world to create the same beautiful 3D work that built DK’s reputation, and it begins to hit home how much we must keep evolving.
The world isn’t waiting for our work. Our every project must earn attention, drawing audiences to our exceptional ideas and amazing executions. And that’s just part of it.
Today, technology enables people down the street or across the ocean to produce similar work at a lower cost, so we must also provide our clients a superior experience. We must make working with Digital Kitchen more rewarding, more profitable, and more fun. We must continually find ways to add value and make working with us the best part of our clients’ days.
Yes, we make content. But we can never be content.
Change challenges all of us. It brings the unknown front and center, pushing us out of our comfort zone and demanding we rethink our expectations. Digital Kitchen has gone through a lot of change lately—as founder Don McNeil puts it “we’ve had more change in the last eighteen months than we did in our first eighteen years.” That can definitely be disorienting.
Still, change is the way of the world. It’s a constant. And the pace of change will only increase…
Here’s the future we are working toward: we will build on our unique legacy of high-impact, largely film-based, visual creativity as we embrace new disciplines and new types of client relationships. We will recalibrate our thinking and approach from one-and-done project work to ongoing, agency or resource of record creative relationships. That’s a different posture. That’s why we’re pushing for Group Account Directors and bringing more strategic rigor to our work.
Some have asked if we’re becoming a marketing firm and yes, we are definitely moving that way. The days of us being able to grow—or even sustain—our business solely as a production company are over. We need to embrace these changes.
Because all that said, I genuinely believe Digital Kitchen’s best days lie ahead of us.
I believe we will re-inspire the market with Social Impact work that changes expectations around how to build a brand.
I believe we can innovate to redefine, once again, what a marketing idea is today.
Because I believe in the fundamental Digital Kitchen belief that Every Brand Deserves a Main Title. And I want us to give it to them.
A good friend forwarded this link to a fascinating blog post by Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody. It is longish, but if you are at all interested in the changing agency landscape, Shirky’s insights on these waning days of newspapers provide a valuable analogy to the challenges advertising currently faces. Or doesn’t.
Or Perhaps We Should Find Another Way Across
Shirky posits that while newspapers clearly saw the internet coming well over a decade ago, they didn’t respond by rethinking and reinventing their product along new paths but rather tried to fabricate fanciful profit models rooted in the old habits, even though those old habits were already changing and would most likely accelerate.
Shirky makes many fascinating points (and reading the following excerpt does not excuse you from reading his original post) but I found this the most trenchant for our current situation:
“When reality is labeled unthinkable, it creates a kind of sickness in an industry. Leadership becomes faith-based, while employees who have the temerity to suggest that what seems to be happening is in fact happening are herded into Innovation Departments, where they can be ignored en masse. This shunting aside of the realists in favor of the fabulists has different effects on different industries at different times. One of the effects on the newspapers is that many of their most passionate defenders are unable, even now, to plan for a world in which the industry they knew is visibly going away.”
I won’t pretend I have the answer to the agency world’s challenges…yet. But I think we can draw some pretty helpful analogies between the advertising and newspaper industries, and hopefully learn some lessons from their struggles. And so to prepare for advertising’s future, I will force myself to think some unthinkable thoughts.
And I do not think of myself as Chicken Little, because I don’t think the sky is falling.
Actually, it could be opening up…
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79