The Beginning of the End

In Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable, Clary Shirky writes:

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.

On reading this, I started wondering: what might this look like in the advertising industry? And it occurred to me that it might look a lot like some of the largest advertisers in the world trying desperately (and failing) to apply traditional models to a new landscape. At risk of being moved to the Innovation Department (I work at an ad agency), some realism: broadcasting without listening doesn't work in systems designed for conversation. And fake listening doesn't scale. Back to Shirky, with some edits by me:

Round and round this goes, with the people committed to saving newspapers advertising demanding to know “If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?” To which the answer is: Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers advertising to replace the one the internet just broke.

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