A post by the venerable Richard Huntington today really intrigues me as I too am sometimes confused as to why our industry forgets its forefathers. Maybe it's our fear of failing to evolve, therefore we ignore the past to create a false sense of evolution. But, as the old adage goes, those who fail to learn the past are doomed to repeat it. Sadly there is more badness than goodness, and therefore we are doomed to repeat more badness.
Now, in all fairness, I don't have much to say about evolution and forward movement of our industry... okay well actually I do, but something more interesting grabbed my eye in Richard's post. His point about how our industry fails to learn from other industries, architecture in his example. This really struck a chord with me as I was think this very thing a few weeks ago when I got out of an meeting early in Chicago and popped into the tail end of a day of proceedings in the Conrad Black racketeering trial.
As a child of a lawyer the law has always been fascinating. Trial law in particular. But not the Hollywood version. While I think Tom Cruise was an excellent lawyer, real lawyers script themselves and only Have one take. The lawyers at the Conrad Black trial are some of the best, and absolute masters of presentation.
A great lawyer and a great statement of their case makes complex matters simple and memorable for a jury. They use props (aka. evidence) and diagrams with discipline and panache to prove a point. Extraneous or irrelevant information (say case pyramids or onions) are struck from the record. And most importantly a great trial lawyer plays the balance between conveying information and entertaining.
I don't know if this is the case of anyone else, but it's funny in our industry, maybe it's our insular existence but we've become so afraid of being that cliched bad powerpoint presentation (which is bad) that we've gone the other way and thrown away any tools or props to plead our cases. A good creative strategy should be simple, but have great depth of support and rational behind it. Too often it seems of late we've lost that support, and thus a simple and great strategy gets torn apart into the expected and the creative along with it. Sadly, this is often under the premise that "the creative will sell itself."
Now, I'm not saying we all become Tom Cruises, but maybe it's time we turn back the dial a tough on the "un-presentation" and remember that we too need to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt.