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We Want to Make Magic

October 30, 2013

People work in a communication agency because they want to be part of something magical, they want to be a part of a place that can take a blank sheet of paper and bring it to life. A place that can takes an opportunity no one else has seen before and turns it into something.

Clients want our magic, they depend on it, and for them it’s often the difference between being a corporate hero or a zero and between business success and failure.

The thing is, the best magic maker we’ve ever had, at our disposal is a television commercial. For years, the best in the business were capable of making magical films that had the power to move us and consequently move a businesses business.

Television advertising is very much alive and still has amazing power, but it’s power is waning; in a few short years, the glory days of television ad will be fondly remembered as a true “movement” in commercial communication, just like Cubism in the world of art, but it will also look equally as dated.

There’s new magic to be made and it’s just not the same as the old magic.

The new magic involves looking at the world in a different way to try and make things that aren’t like advertising, to bring value to consumers by solving problems and making their lives easier and better as a result. Simply translated, this magic involves means creating new services, businesses, applications and even hardware for our clients.

The other strain of new magic is magically mysterious because it’s all about re-plumbing the inner workings of the Internet to be truly prescient. As we devote more of lives to the digital world, we are pushing out lots of rich mineable data about ourselves in the forms of our needs and wants, most of the time we don’t even know we are doing it. These trails become the markers for brands to anticipate and offer us something at the time when we need it most and are therefore most receptive.

The problem we have is that each of these new types of magic needs a different magician because while they share the reality that best-in-breed work in all these spaces can be classed as magical; each requires an entirely different set of skills to get there.

The old world of magic relied on powerful reductive thinking that exposed and amplified a human truth that could be disseminated to large groups of people. The output was a television commercial, that if done right, moved people emotionally. While getting it right was very hard, the process of getting it right was at least relatively simple.

These new forms of magic are significantly more complex. They require teams of different skill sets, a deep data-driven understanding of people’s behaviors and needs and are constantly evolving as a result. It’s not about being “done”, you are never “done”; in the new world of magic, you are testing, learning, refining, optimizing as the stuff you make lives organically in the real world. It gets shared, used, played with, responded to, interacted with and through these actions gets re-shaped and re-formed.

To be magical in 2013, you’ve got to be able to still comfortably make magic in the old world and probably at least one of the two new worlds.

You can’t make the mistake of assuming that any one of the worlds is somehow more relevant, or better than the other. You have to understand what each of them can offer your clients and you need to know what it’s going to take to make magic happen in each of them.

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