Before we dream Instagram let’s make Housebite first
There’s been a lot of words pouring over the new darling debate: Can The Next Instagram/Hipstamatic/Klout/Angry Birds Be Born Within An Agency?
Fashionably late, yet not a bit less ‘ranty’, I want to chip in, if i may
In short, no. Agencies are too damn busy making what Murat was referring to as branded fluff. They(we) respond to briefs, they make ‘advertising’ and that’s not going to disappear anytime soon. Despite contrary belief, advertising works – it makes our clients feel like their doing they’re job and it helps people in agencies make a living. Occasionally, it does what it’s ultimately meant to be doing – to help brands sell more of their stuff.
As much as we want to believe, and while agency peeps are accountable to 85% of the ‘start-up is the new black’ chatter (people in real start-ups are normally too damn busy running a start up), you need a certain conditions to be met to move any start up idea, small or big, from talking to doing. Even the most motivated, savvy, ingenious, oh-so-digital agencies will find it massively challenging to direct resources from their hectic billable everyday operation to make a start-up idea happen.
I don’t mean to discourage anyone but let’s get real. Ask Noah if he could have made Percolate happen from inside the Barbarian Group, ask Andy what happened to the potentially amazing “we feel earth”, Ask Tim about the time and resource he now puts in BrandFeed. Making most start-up ideas happen takes massive resource that 95% of individuals and agencies can’t afford (there are some small exceptions).
The very clever person that is Tim Malbon wrote an inspiring and sobering respond to Murat and I cannot agree with him more. Expecting agencies to become the next darling start-ups is a bit childish. Most importantly as Tim notes, the ‘makers generation’ is so much bigger and significant than brands and agencies.
What agencies can do and some of them have been trying for a while with vary degrees of success is to (a) learn from and adopt the culture of start-ups into their process and operation, and (b) make some stuff that is actually useful (yawn, it’s funny how the chatter of 5 years ago is so similar only instead of the darling start-up, we had the darling ‘utility’ with Nike+ as the holy grail – how many of these did agencies end up making?)
There’s loads to do between the branded fluff and the next instagram. And smaller useful platforms that bring value to people is where agencies can realistically innovate for/with their clients. One such idea that got me super excited the other day is Housebite. A simple, clever platform that revolutionises Take Away and makes any foodie and aspiring masterchef a local take away spot. Now if I had someone like Waitrose as a client I’d be bitting the shit out of myself for not coming with this idea for them.
When we’ll get just a bit closer to make some stuff like Housebite for our clients we’ll earn the permission to talk about start-ups.