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Listen: that’s the sound of inevitability

Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer for JWT Middle East and Africa

There’s a scene in The Matrix where Agent Smith, whilst holding Neo’s head in an armlock over train tracks, says: “Do you hear this, Mr Anderson?” (sound of an oncoming train) “This is the sound of inevitability.” Now I don’t know if inevitability can be reduced to a simple sound effect. What I do know, however, is that in this poor-man’s Matrix, data-driven world of ours, the picture of inevitability is a simple round figure – that of a zero.

Zero cost to consumers is, oddly, the aim of service organisations as well as their Doomsday scenario. Take telecoms for example. There will come a day soon when your SIM card will be obsolete and your data connection constant and unlimited. Yup, this is inevitable. What is also inevitable is that competitive pressures will force 4G operators to imagine another day where subscription will also be free – as in that same ‘zero cost to consumer’ – and that voice and data finances will have the look of a Greek P&L sheet.

While this scenario might seem like the equivalent of The Day Of The Dead for comfort-zoners, it is actually one to be embraced lovingly. Change of that magnitude is manna for ad agencies. We are, after all, problem solvers and, in the way we have shaped our industry, we are surprisingly well-equipped for this type of Armageddon. That’s because today’s advertising, far more than other industries, has become a chameleon on amphetamines. Change of scenery? We’ve Photoshopped ourselves in it already. New parameters? Ha! We will borrow from other categories. Bankruptcy in the making? Here’s your new corporate logo, dude.

In other words, when the inevitable comes with the unwavering assurance of an onrushing train, we will take that telecom – or any other – client by the hand and whisper ‘let’s change the CI, adopt the MasterCard model to your ecosystem and apply a loyalty programme to the whole thing’. And if that will sound like gobbledegook to them, it demonstrates in fact that, come hell or big zeroes, we are actually more future ready than we think, and that the sound of inevitability should be nothing more than sweet music to our ears.

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