We’re not in the Communications business anymore

Posted by on Oct 30, 2007 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments


Great thoughts coming out of New Orleans Polygamous Marriage gig.

A number of the key protagonists from the San Diego AAAA Account Planning gig (at which readers might remeber I got so excited) were there and doing their thing again, but with some new spins. Gareth’s posted both a typicallly fine review and his own presentation.

But if you read nothing else, read Adrian (Zeus Jones) Ho’s post here. Made me even more convinced than my wittering and blogging around this theme (or both as a chum suggested the other day).

Our job is not about sending messages or creating relationships or any of the bollocks that still dominates the world of ‘advertising’ and marketing communications (and as the Silicon Valley guru, Regis Mckenna points out, too much of what used to be marketing is now “communications”). Too often communications seek to simulate and fake the interest that companies, products and services are missing. Or distract from the very obvious lack of interest.

No, it’s much more about doing things, baking in the interest otherwise faked and then suggesting and encouraging consumers and employees to do stuff together around this.

I hate to say it but it’s a lot more like art.

Both the public spectacle thing (that Russ and I have separately written about recently) and also in the not transmitting-a-message-now-isn’t-that-frustrating kind-of-way…(“Question 1. Discuss the primary and secondary messages that make Beethoven’s 5th or Picasso’s Guernica such groovy-f******s. Extra points will be awarded for a correct decoding of the the heirarchy of information and the reason why for each message”) Art is interesting because it doesn’t have a message. When it does, it tends to be less interesting than when it does. Indeed the message of an artwork is not the point of it. Ditto (double-ditto) with marketing stuff.

No, it’s becoming clear that our concerns are changing and with them our jobs: to make things that folk do stuff (‘interact’) around and – as with the now infamous “Doris’ crack” at the Tate Modern – to make their own meaning. Together.

No, our future is all about verbs: what we do, which gets them out there to do stuff. With and to each other.

And not about adjectives or nouns. Or messages. Or claims. Or information. Or things.

The sooner we all get this, the sooner the advertising and PR world (messages and media channels to send them) will seem like something worth bothering with again.

So write it out a hundred times…

And make a wish.


  1. John Dodds
    October 30, 2007

    Is it me or are there an awful lot of planning conferences?
    But why go when you get all the links here. Thanks.

  2. niko
    October 31, 2007

    in the spirit of not always having meaning and creating stuff for people to enjoy amongst themselves, check out this bit about the rapper lil’wayne…the first post modern rap artist

  3. Michael
    November 1, 2007

    Lil Wayne is one of New Orlean’s finest. Mark, wish you could have made it down to the conference!

  4. Mark Earls
    November 1, 2007

    Thanks mate. Yes, I wish I’d been back to NO, too. Hope all well – sounds likeyou had a great show!

  5. neilperkin
    November 7, 2007

    Great post, Mark. As well as that post, I thought their ‘polygamous’ presentation was absolutely spot on too (and have posted on both)

  6. Business of Marketing and Branding
    November 18, 2007

    Director, Differentiation Strategy is a title at Boeing

    Boeing Blog: Randys Journal: Dashing -8
    Randy Baseler, CEO of Boeing and noted CEO blogger writes: My colleague Blake Emery, who has the unique title of Director, Differentiation Strategy
    What a great idea. A person whose s…