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Where’s the experimentation?

January 23, 2012

Listening to Terry Gross interview Trent Reznor, I was struck by the musician’s drive for constant experimentation.

He explained in the interview that in the process of recording the soundtrack for the new movie, The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, Reznor and his creative partner Atticus Ross, purchased 3 beat-up pianos and then preceded to mess with them in order to create and generate interesting sounds.

As we enter a period of morphing creative hybrids and a world where know one quite knows what works, it’s amazing to see the dearth of experimentation in the world of advertising and communication.

While we have masses of tech start-ups emerging everyday with new ideas for utility and functionality that can enhance our existing processes, this isn’t going on when it comes to pure creative communication.

Every year, there are a handful of standout examples of some really smart, fresh, lateral thinking, but of the millions of executions and thousands of campaigns, a handful isn’t that great a strike rate.

Now is precisely the time to take chances and experiment for a couple of reasons.

1. There’s never been a better time- technology is there, the audience is there
2. You can’t learn, unless you experiment
3. The bar to breakthrough right now is so high- to achieve it, you’ve simply got to experiment

While many agencies are thinking about tech labs, incubators and finding ideas that can become business worthy for themselves and clients, which is smart, but don’t we also need the C21st equivalent of Charles and Ray Eames’ Los Angeles studio or Andy Warhol’s factory?

Where are our places where we can break old pianos to see what sounds they make and the brands that want us to do that for them?