Blogs & Comment

Cry ‘advert’, and let slip the dogs of war

Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer, JWT MENA

“It may be due to an education system that is excessively fascinated by wars and conquests, but somehow agencies tend to have an obsession with military terms. Of course, the competitive nature of our business, allied with expansionist agendas, doesn’t exactly make it sympathetic to a kindergarten-esque lexicon, but it does sometimes border on the ridiculous. We want to “own a territory”, “pursue the target”, “bombard consumers” and “destroy the competition”. We outline strategies and carry them out with tactics.We launch campaigns relentlessly and in all directions, and when we taste success we call it “victory”. It is all macho stuff, and it is inoffensive and common enough in the business world, but I am sure it makes for fascinating matter for psychoanalysts.

The fact is everyone likes to define the enemy rather than an objective. It is less work and gets us all foaming at the mouth and, when it comes to enemies, none has been more regularly identified as “mediocrity”. It is a common cry in boardrooms and in emails and it is as useful for future endeavours as a Justin Bieber collection. Nobody sets out to produce mediocre stuff. No one plans a mediocre piece of communication and nobody goes to work thinking “I am going to do some seriously mediocre stuff today”.  Mediocrity is a by-product. To use that martial jargon it is the collateral damage of an ill conceived strategy and poorly conducted attack. If you want to wage war on mediocrity, you are going after a very slippery target. You can even say you have nowhere to aim.

In an industry whose raison d’être is creativity and innovation, and whose survival rests on its ability to produce something fresh and surprising day in day out, mediocrity manifests itself in the zone of comfort.  Indeed, the moment you have unanimous approval with everyone feeling comfortable and satisfied, then mediocrity sits down at your table, lights a candle and tells you it loves you. The real enemy in this war of ours, you see, is predictability.”