Alpha males and Beta tests

18Nov09

Advertising is full of Alpha types. The ones that want to do it all themselves and get all the glory. Any visit to an awards ceremony will tell you that.

Or look at the awards annuals. Suddenly the clever child has many fathers.

I’ve seen a single press ad with three or four art directors and two creative directors – all with the names next to it. That’s not about collaboration – it’s about wanting to take the credit. The perpetual Beta changes all that. Wiki changes all that. User Generated Content of all types change that.

Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) talks about build and release – don’t imagine you really know your consumer best. Adapt as you go. Be light on your feet and quick to change.
The watchwords of the New Digital Order are generosity and collaboration. If your idea gets better because of the wisdom of the many rather than the brilliance of the individual, where does your ego go from there?

Well actually it is still about brilliance. My first job in advertising was at O&M, where we banged on about the big idea. Very often though, what we regarded then (and still now) as big ideas are just clever ideas. It’s the same now on the web. People confuse new with good. Or clever ideas with big ideas.

I think we’ve still to see the consistent emergence of really big ideas. Perhaps inspired, or improved by this new era of collaboration and generosity. So there’s room for the alpha types after all. It’s just that they’ll need to leave room for a few extra names on the awards entry.

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