On the inbreeding of ideas
It’s been a while hasn’t it? Missed me?
Alright, let’s go straight into the thick of things.
Since I’ve been back to London, I have been extremely surprised by how a lot of campaigns seem to have been inbred.
Let’s look at the definition of inbreeding from good old Wik:
Inbreeding is a genetic term that refers to reproduction as a result of the mating of two animals which are genetically related to each other. If the relationship is a close one or it is practiced repeatedly, inbreeding can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive or deleterious traits. This generally leads to a decreased fitness of a population, which is called inbreeding depression
We are well aware of the consequences of inbreeding in the human population. Let’s look at a famous example in history:
A twisted family…. that had dramatic results:
The prevalent inbreeding in the Habsburg family genealogy, beginning in prior generations, had given many in the family hereditary weaknesses and left the later generations prone to still-births. In Charles II, it resulted in being disfigured, physically disabled, and mentally retarded.
This is what he looked like
Not a good look. Although I guess he could lick his nose. Which is always a good party trick to entertain the guests.
I digress. The point is what inbreeding does for humans, or animals, it does for ideas.
And there seems to be a couple of ideas that have had a lot of inbreeding lately. Let’s take a look at a few recent campaigns:
The very irritable “what would you do if you had free text” from T-Mobile
On a pure professional point of view, getting this campaign in 2009 is a bit suicidal if you ask me, as texts have been virtually free for a few years now. So this guy in the ad, has been STOPPED from accomplishing his dream of forming a super band all these years because the cost of text messages was too expensive. COME ON!Don’t get me started with the rest of the campaign.
“If I ruled the world” from Vodafone.
And the next
“The Internet is under new management: YOU!” Yahoo.
“Windows 7 – My Idea: Ramin’s Snap”
Where we found out that Windows Vista had been developed by random people.
I could go on forever.
To various degrees, they are all inbred from a main chain of thoughts:
Power to the people. Power to the random people that is.
Someone has decided that what people want are software designed by people, not engineers. That we are interested in what ‘fake’ random people think. That our brands listen and pay attention to people. That we are big conglomerates but have a human voice. “Look at our campaign, we have real people in it. From the streets!”
I don’t want to be the new management of the Internet. I want someone who is paid to do that job to do it properly. Equally, I don’t want to pay hundreds of bucks to buy a software that has been designed by imbeciles. I just want it to work.
Besides, I don’t give a flying fuck about what people would do if they ruled the world or if they had unlimited text or Internet.
By trying to hold a mirror to our audience, we have completely failed in doing what we are supposed to do. Engage them. Tell our stories. Spectacle and narratives are the two most powerful forces at play in advertising. None of them come even close to using any of those.
It’s again another example of advertising looking into itself for inspiration. So much similarity in insight, execution, tone, etc. is shocking. Our advertising is disfigured by all that inbreeding.
Great work comes from great insight and fresh executions. What’s happened to those? The courage to do something new? Fresh? Exciting? Spectacular?
Let’s stop the inbreeding of ideas right now and get some fresh blood into our DNA I say. And that starts with better insights and ideas.