Somewhere around the turn of the century, giving a shit fell out of favor.
Not overnight, but imperceptibly, and by degrees.
The catalyst was the eclipse of traditional advertising by digital.
Audiences, we were told, could now be targeted with absolute and unprecedented accuracy. Wherever they went, whatever they viewed, custom content would seek them out and find them. There was no escape.
In this brave new world, you didn’t need to seduce, engage, or convince, you merely needed a boatload of content ready for deployment at a moment’s notice.
Ideas were relegated to a mere by-product of delivery.
And all those folks who gave a shit about things like that?
Well, they were shit out of luck.
The give-a-shitters were of a type. Their natural habitat was the agency Creative Department, and you could spot them a mile off.
They were the people who always insisted on questioning the brief.
Demanded that the work had a “concept.”
That it be exciting and different.
What else was it they said?
Oh, that’s right, impact.
They were always banging on about that, too.
Forever arguing and slowing things down.
Not to put too fine a point on it, they were a royal pain in the arse.
But it wasn’t just the fact that they were troublesome.
Juxtaposed to the whizz-bang, buzzword-bull spouted by the adherents of analytics and data, they looked like positive dinosaurs.
The practitioners of giving a shit never really disappeared.
They just became progressively less tolerated.
No longer revered, and often seen as “difficult,” they were far more likely to be jettisoned at the first sign of a downsizing or merger.
The pragmatic learned to pick their battles.
The smart simply shut the fuck up.
This was the way of things until recently when, out of the blue, something strangely beautiful, and unexpected happened.
Clients started asking questions.
Big questions. About everything.
What exactly was the value of a View, a Like, or one of those Thumbs Up emoji thingys?
Why was engagement nonexistent?
When will “conversations” convert into sales?
Why aren’t the ads being seen?
And where in God’s name was the ROI?
Call me naive – and believe me, I’ve been called much worse – but I think the penny is starting to drop.
People are starting to realize that being able to plop a message into someone’s field of view with absolute precision is only half the task and that the real one – the one that concerns the quality of the creative work being delivered – is the one that really matters.
Work that demands attention.
That persuades and communicates with immediacy.
That can’t be phoned in.
Or automated. Or programmed.
But must be plucked from hidden chambers within the imagination and shepherded into existence through a mixture of alchemy, talent, and sheer bloody-mindedness.
By oddballs, mavericks, and non-conformists.
By people who give a shit.
No longer a liability or an indulgence, we need these rebels now more than ever.
Welcome back to the fold all you difficult, crazy bastards.
We’ve missed you.
“Business wants remarkable advertising but doesn’t want the kind of people who can produce it.” David Ogilvy