25 February 2021

If you’re a creative agency, you’d better be an opportunist

Matt Weston

In 2007 I went to Beijing on holiday. The moment our taxi hit the streets it was immediately obvious the city was rapidly modernising.

One of the things I remember distinctly from that trip is the contrast made by the juxtaposition of jaw-droppingly old, ornately beautiful Chinese architecture with super modern developments.

Another thing I remember was the fierce competition to make a living there.

Every little gap in any market was filled. I saw pop-up cycle repairs with store-front clappers vying for shoppers’ attention. I was chased down the road by street masseurs and hassled in a supermarket by a receipt stamper.

In fact, the only people that didn’t hassle me were the street-side barbers, because I have no hair.

The point is, entrepreneurs were everywhere. ‘SMEs’ pervaded every moment.

There are spit monitors.

There are mistress dispellers who specialise in ending affairs between married men and their extramarital lovers.

There are professional queuers who stand in for you if you can’t be bothered to wait in line.

And then restaurants who hire them, in a bid to get people talking on social media and attract more customers.

It almost felt like the man who magically appeared to wheel our suitcases from the taxi to departures for a small fee and wouldn’t take no for an answer, lacked innovation.

So what’s the analogy? Today’s media landscape is Beijing on steroids.

If you’re a creative, coming up with killer ideas is as ever, your bread and butter; but finding the right space to get those ideas noticed … now that’s getting harder to do.

Which means you need the same kind of tenacity and opportunism as I saw all around me in Beijing, where cutting through noise requires more.

The media landscape is as busy, hectic and fractured as ever. It’s no longer good enough to just repurpose your TV ad with a six second cut down.

There is simply too much online competition for attention, and challenge coming from all sides.

The majority of hilarious content you see across social channels is often not made by big budget agencies, but randoms in bedrooms.

And with the constant bombardment of a million different memes and media channels, the average person’s filter for shit ads is at an all-time high.

So, success is a fine balance between killer message and killer placement.

Finding the right moment/place/target for simplistic, immediately understood creative to cut through requires craft, relentless awareness of your target market and where they are, an insatiable interest in culture, a deep understanding of your client’s business and in-depth knowledge of every channel – whether that be TV, TikTok or Twitch.

In short, you need to have the kind of all-seeing eye that spots an opportunity, wherever and whenever it arises. And even better, that predicts where it will arise before it happens.

Fortunately for me, I work at an agency that has pioneered some smart technology that lets us see exactly what is happening for clients across web, social media, PR, sales and whatever other data we need to plug into their dashboard to help get the answers we need (aka BoldLens).

That’s a resource that allows us to spot the gaps in the market. From there, it’s about coming up with a cracking idea that answers that golden opportunity, in the most engaging way possible.

The strategy sets the parameters for success and the creativity is tasked with making it win, as big as possible.

Things are rapidly changing out there.

So, you’d better be as opportunistic as a Beijing entrepreneur to get yours.