Linear: the latest bullshit buzzword we need to stop saying already

Linear: the latest bullshit buzzword we need to stop saying already
SHARE
THIS



It’s time for brands and companies to let go and embrace the free-fall says David Hovenden.

I love being a journalist. Over more than 20 years I’ve had the privilege of covering a bewildering array of rounds. The basic premise, however, has always been the same: find something interesting, learn about it, then write something about it.

Over the years I found myself in management positions and therefore grown an understanding of the business of journalism. But I’ve always held on to that primary role of having my interest piqued and then sharing what I discovered with an audience. For many years when I was caught up with managing too many magazines drowning in Excel spread sheets and honing my PowerPoint skills, writing an article was viewed upon as a personal indulgence and I rarely got to it.

These days, however, looking after one little old title, I have the time to write pretty much every day. And I don’t view it as an indulgence anymore, but an absolute necessity. Only from delving into the issues faced by marketing, media and advertising people first hand as a reporter does, do I even remotely feel prepared to manage a business that aims to serve these same people.

Perhaps this is the biggest change that’s occurred in the past 20 years. No longer can you rely on things staying the same so much so that you can simply busy yourself with spreadsheets and presentations to board members.

This change is of course reflective of the broader business environment. I just saw a car with the number plate DATA4U for Christ’s sake!

The thing that many organisations are struggling with at the moment is that you have to let go. The age of the control freak is over. Brands are dealing with this change in varying degrees. You’ve read as many things as me I’m sure about ‘linear’ broadcasting,  ‘linear’ advertising, ‘linear’ positioning of brands and ‘linear’ brand values and ‘linear’ etcetera and so on. It means one-way communication.

Has ‘linear’ suddenly become de rigueur because we became bored with saying ‘digital’ marketing? Or because the cool kids at Google started telling us to stop talking about digital marketing and to start talking about marketing in a digital world and we’re just quick learners?

The fact is we have leapt off a cliff and there’s no going back. Everybody has a breathtakingly amazing ability to access and share information. Linear is a neat way to describe everything that took place before we jumped, because we’re not sure if that’s really pre-digital or pre-social or pre-mobile.

Massive companies can now be brought to their knees by a social media misstep. My favourite example is this Twitter fail by the New York Police department’s attempt to use social media to show how friendly the cops in the Big Apple really are. The crowd had different take on it.

NYPD decided to ask people to tweet photos of their friendly local constabularly

NYPD decided to ask people to tweet photos of their friendly local constabulary

For a police department, police brutality isn’t great brand image, but it’s sort of appropriate and in the long run probably helps the police keep law and order. Fear is a powerful motivator after all. So it’s sort of a brand they deserve.

But what about other brands? I attended Lithium’s LiNC conference in San Francisco a month or so ago and its CEO Rob Tarkoff described the era we are currently in as the time of extreme customer expectations. I tend to think he’s right. We’ve become so conditioned for things to just work that when they don’t we want to know why. And we can share our disappointment straight away. It has to be quite terrifying for brand managers the world over.

Adobe recently opened its logo up to be pimped. Google changes its logo every day and any number of other companies are pretty loose with their styling, embracing the fact that they can no longer have a ‘linear’ positioning of their brand.

The brand you have, is the brand you earn. Act like a bucket full of arseholes and chances are someone will start a Facebook page about that very fact. Do something nice and you may well end up on one of the most powerful media platforms in the world: Buzzfeed. After all, as Jonah Peretti explained it last month in San Francisco to me, there’s no over estimating the size of the Bored at Work (BAW) and more recently Bored in Line (BIL) audiences.

Ironically, one of the companies most responsible for turning the world on its head is one the most protective of its brand and its positioning. Apple could be described as secretive at best and paranoid at worst when it comes to opening up its brand.

One of the good things about having been around the traps for more than 20 years is that I’ve seen Apple make this mistake before. In 1997, Bill Gates poured $150 million into Apple ostensibly to keep the company afloat. He said at the time he thought it was important for there to be more than just a Windows desktop offering. As a complete aside, the news sent Apple’s share price up $7 to $26.75 a share. Its share price broke $1000 per share, before the shares were split.

There are reams of copy written on why Apple nearly didn’t make it in the 90s and it makes for insightful reading. The basic problem, however, in a grossly over simplified sentence, was that the difference between a Mac and a PC became so negligible that it simply didn’t sell enough boxes. When you think about Android and now Chromecast, Apple is looking a little short on a cutting edge product. Bring on the iWatch says Tim Cook. October anyone?

Of course, Apple is the most valuable company in the world and employs an army of super smart people so chances are they will work it out. But Apple’s closed business model, it would argue model of market leadership, means that its competing on its own against the other giant success story of the past decade, Google, who has lined up with the likes of Samsung and Sony, Apple‘s old sparring partner Microsoft and a host of other players. They make a formidable team.

It’s an interesting contrast: companies that think they know best and those prepared to ask the market what they want and then build it for them. And involve them in every step of the way.

Henry Ford famously said: If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. But we live in a time where the world has far better access to information. Companies are also able to have much more meaningful relationships with individuals who know what they want.

I can’t wait to report on what the next decade has to bring.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

“Young Talent Need Time For More ‘Blue Sky’ Thinking”: NewsMediaWorks CEO
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Technology

“Young Talent Need Time For More ‘Blue Sky’ Thinking”: NewsMediaWorks CEO

NewsMediaWorks has come on board once again to sponsor B&T’s 30 Under 30 Awards, and we caught up recently with CEO Peter Miller (pictured above) to talk all about young talent in the industry, and what can be done better to foster and preserve it. Why has NewsMediaWorks decided to partner with the 30 Under […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
H&M Racist “Monkey” Hoodies Now Selling For $2500 On eBay
  • Marketing

H&M Racist “Monkey” Hoodies Now Selling For $2500 On eBay

H&M’s now infamous “coolest monkey in the jungle” kid’s hoodie is now selling on eBay for a reported $2500 following its global notoriety. Last week the budget fashion chain made world headlines when it showed a young lad of African origins modelling the jumper in an online campaign for its UK outlets. There was universal […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Former News Corp Corporate Affairs Chief Joins Seven West Media
  • Media

Former News Corp Corporate Affairs Chief Joins Seven West Media

Seven West Media (SWM) may have found a replacement for its recently-departed corporate affairs boss Simon Francis. Stephen Browning, who was previously News Corp’s corporate affairs chief, is now working as a communications consultant at SWM, according to The Australian. It’s understood that SWM chief executive Tim Worner will work closely with Browning in the […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Bohemia Hires Rebecca Hamilton As Media Director
  • Advertising
  • Media

Bohemia Hires Rebecca Hamilton As Media Director

M&C Saatchi Group-owned media agency Bohemia has announced the appointment of Rebecca Hamilton as its media director to lead the Freedom Furniture and Michael Hill accounts. Hamilton joins Bohemia from Disney Theatrical Productions, where she played an integral role in the success of The Lion King and Aladdin the Musical. Prior to that, Hamilton was […]

Zenith’s Shaun Harmor Joins Posterscope As Group Business Director
  • Advertising
  • Media

Zenith’s Shaun Harmor Joins Posterscope As Group Business Director

Out-of-home agency Posterscope has announced it has welcomed Shaun Harmor to its Melbourne team as group business director. Reporting to national general manager David Campbell, Harmor joins Posterscope’s national leadership team and assumes responsibility for driving the pioneering and service delivery in the Melbourne market. With an investment and trading background across a number of […]

Compare The Market Hires New Chief Marketing Officer
  • Marketing

Compare The Market Hires New Chief Marketing Officer

Finance comparison website Compare the Market has announced the appointment of Jenny Williams as its chief marketing officer. Williams brings with her more than 30 years’ experience in technology-driven marketing to the role, and is well-known for her digital expertise. She joins Compare the Market from Ideagarden, where he led brand, digital and marketing transformations. […]

Emirates Tells Travellers ‘Don’t Upgrade Your Seat, Upgrade Your Airline’ In Funny New Ads
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Emirates Tells Travellers ‘Don’t Upgrade Your Seat, Upgrade Your Airline’ In Funny New Ads

Emirates has released its latest marketing campaign to promote travel on its award-winning Economy class. Emirates’ latest ads feature a series of characters who try to wrangle a seat upgrade at an unnamed airline’s check-in counter. Each spot ends with the ultimate tip for travellers: “Don’t upgrade your seat, upgrade your airline. Fly Emirates.” Seasoned […]

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Technology

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency

As part of its summer fire campaign, the Victorian government has launched a virtual reality (VR) bushfire experience and content series via The Fuel Agency. The VR experience places the user in the midst of a large bushfire, and is designed to encourage people to leave early on high-risk days before it’s too late. The […]

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Technology

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass

ad tech company VeNA has signed an exclusive reseller partnership covering Australia and New Zealand with digital rugby network RugbyPass. Across Asia and parts of Europe, RugbyPass is the exclusive digital rights holder and over-the-top broadcaster for live rugby, including the Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and autumn internationals, the Six Nations, the Aviva Premiership, […]

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD
  • Advertising

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD

Video advertising platform SpotX has announced it has appointed Gavin Buxton as managing director of Asia to lead the company’s expansion in the region. Buxton has over 17 years’ global experience in the digital advertising space, having worked in leadership roles at tech and publishing companies, including Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, and LinkedIn, with the last […]

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands

B&T Awards 2017 finalist Big Mobile has unveiled a fresh look to reflect its new ad tech credentials. The company successfully pivoted its business from ad network to mobile ad tech vendor when it announced a joint venture (JV) with Widespace in October last year. As a result of the business changes, Big Mobile wanted […]

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager
  • Advertising

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager

Independent ad agency March One has appointed a fresh face to the team, with Melanie Tozer to reinforce its mission to put humans first as a senior account manager. Tozer (pictured above), an up-and-coming talent from New Zealand, will align her extensive experience in FMCG marketing with March One, having worked on accounts for Bunnings […]

What To Expect From The App Economy In 2018
  • Opinion
  • Technology

What To Expect From The App Economy In 2018

Here's an insightful, authoritative synopsis of the app economy. So, you're right, it wasn't written by a B&T journo.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine