Much has been written about the gradual shift in advertising, from digital to post-digital. The term is an interesting one in many ways.
Firstly, its origins are not in media but in artistic practice, having arisen from digital artists – such as the UK’s own Roy Ascott – over many years. Secondly, it’s “post” as in “postmodernism” – blurring the distinctions between physical and virtual media. Finally, it has become a term which has caused a bit of a stir for agencies that recently wanted to see themselves as… well, digital.
Digital is ubiquitous. The age of the “digital agency” is over. By all means, work in digital – just don’t bother saying that you are digital. Everyone is. Traditional agencies, creative shops and even those in experiential marketing – lumped together in a “behind-the-times” mass – are now furiously, and rightly, catching up with the pure-play digital folks. After all, they have the financial muscle to either invest to be ahead of the game or hand a large cheque to the guys that already are.
This unification is more than just good media planning. The best campaign planning brings together a wide range of media, wrapped up in a beautifully coherent story. What post-digital brings to the table is the ability to plan, execute and measure with digital technology at the core.
Playing with potential
The key point to remember about post-digital campaigns is their scope for creativity and innovation. Unless post-digital campaigns are rigorously planned and executed, with a wide and diverse range of skills and ideas coming into play, you’re still going to get crap.
Groundbreaking also needs grounding
Many clients, particularly those in smaller businesses, are still coming to terms with what social media means for them. And, remember: most people in the UK don’t recognise the term “social media”. They see Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and sharing functionality on the BBC News website in their lunch hour. They don’t need to see it conceptually.
The same principle applies to post-digital: we need to inform and coach clients in what these creative endeavours could mean for them and their brand.
Bring it all back
Post-digital brings the physical and virtual realms in a way that can connect with consumers, in physical and emotional ways. Brand campaigns which are more well-known in this field, such as DDB’s “Fun Theory” work for Volkswagen and the infamous W+K Chalkbot for Nike, which inject a sense of playfulness and fun into people’s lives.
These and other campaigns could not have been as successful in their execution without digital, but it’s not a solely digital experience that people appreciate and remember. The best campaigns will be those where the absence of technology would have prevented the campaign from happening at all, but without the technology necessarily being visible.
Post-digital campaigns have to be magical, meaningful, malleable and memorable. They represent the best chance we have of delivering constantly amazing, invigorating, exciting, and emotionally powerful work to clients and consumers.
Agencies which can display agility, imagination, and, frankly – bollocks – as well as the ability to connect people’s emotional and physical drivers – will be in the lead. Your first post-digital campaign starts now.
Paul Squires is Managing Director of Perera