To be perfectly honest, I started the day late, tired, cynical yet curious with anticipation. The added burden of writing this piece kept me kind of on the edge.
But I am so glad I was here today. Despite the disappointment of the Droga no show, session after session kept hitting me hard with the new certainty. The windows of my grey matter, jammed and rusted for years, were slammed wide open with sheer force.
Engagement, while a buzzword for some time, came alive with a multitude of examples from Coke to TED. Although I must say the attempt to engage with the audience with a Q&A model to address fragmentation was, well... fragmented.
There was a lot to take away, but for me two things stood out.
First was the overwhelming new perspectives on ideas. We in the ad business have always thought of our business as one of ideas. But we have always just focussed on ideas that impress. Driving us all to deliver and measure impact. But in the uncertain world ideas are not just impact. Ideas are people. Ideas are contagious. Ideas are non-partisan. Ideas are taxis. Ideas cannot be measured. Ideas can build on and on. Ideas have no language. Ideas are technology. Ideas need no technology. Ideas are democratic, not patents. Everybody has an idea. Essentially, ideas are what others do with them.
How often are the ad and marketing folks willing to let someone else take control of their ideas and even change them completely.
Which brings me to the second big take of the day. We ad people need a serious rethink. With due apologies to all the ad folks. There were many great ad people who made fantastic presentations. Interesting. Entertaining. Impassioned. Unimpressive. Not one stuck with me. The ad guys kept going back to their show reels. Some blatantly using the opportunity to push their ‘greatness’.
The ones which moved me came from people who have little or nothing to do with advertising creation. Contagious. TED. Google. Clients left an impression. Harish and Joseph were touching with their impassioned consumer focus.
What I realised and admire the most is the innocent joy and pride these people have for ideas and how ready they are to collaborate and spread. We in the ad world are arrogant with our ideas and hold them too close to us.
I am certain to receive a lot of brickbats from my industry friends, but my effort beyond AdAsia is to keep the windows of my mind open and the hinges well-oiled.
(Alok Agrawal is COO - SW Asia at Cheil Worldwide.)