Adland’s pursuit of the wrong type of innovation

The great failure of the advertising industry to transform itself in the last 30 years is a result of it being fantastic at innovation. The problem is that it is the wrong type of innovation. We have become expert at Clayton Christensen’s “sustaining innovation”. That is, we’ve pursued new and original ways of doing what we have always done best and used creativity to make small, incremental improvements to our answers to client business problems.

But we have failed to complement this with the “disruptive innovation” needed to create a paradigm shift in how our industry’s business model functions. All too often the agency Chief Innovation Officer’s role is to relentlessly pursue the latest new and original way of doing what we have done before (see this recent piece “Do agencies need innovation chiefs?” from Campaign magazine). And it is rarely about imaginatively and daringly finding new types of things to do with our creativity and new ways to get paid for them. That’s why despite the wealth of creative and technical talent available, so far a creative agency hasn’t created an Instagram or Angry Birds. Of course that is a very difficult thing to achieve. We are making tiny steps here at Dare, but as the hour we sell becomes commoditised, it isn’t an optional activity and so we are giving it a go. Are you?


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