10,000 messages a day. The minute you wake up to the moment you rest your head it’s brands, products, family, friends, posts, chats, gifs, pings, tweets, feeds, walls, commercials, posters, tunes, videos… for this, that and the other. TEN THOUSAND. And they all want a piece of you.
A huge amount of information for anyone to take in.
No surprise no one cares, no one can pay attention to each one. If you tried, you’d have 8.64 seconds per message and it would take all day. No wonder attention spans are shrinking.
And as they do, so is advertising’s ability to engage with people. When it should be the opposite. People are dodging ads or simply not taking any notice anymore. Most advertising is grey wallpaper to your life, much like the overcast sky or the well-trodden pavement. It’s like advertising can’t be bothered to impress anymore. As if it’s approaching retirement, shying away from daring excitement now digital and data have turned up to the party. We’re sure this isn’t the case, but besides the 5% of mind-blowing work that gets everyone talking at Cannes, the rest is mind-numbingly boring.
Is it because people are caring less and less about the messages they’re exposed to? We don’t think so. Do marketeers care enough about the consumer’s time to provide entertaining information? Not as much as they used to. Or is it that there is too many uncreative people running agencies by spread sheets, who merely think creative-looking types hanging around the open plan office is more important than having truly creative newsworthy ideas leaving the building? Hmmm.
Right now, it’s all about a quick fix, reactive solutions to problems. Depth and substance is lacking from much of the work out in the world. Just as long as something makes it out there in the public domain with the off chance someone might consider paying attention to it, click on it or even like it, well that’s good enough. But since less than 100 of these messages make it through our instinctive ad blockers, well everything else has pretty much been a waste of time, money and energy for everyone involved. That’s 9,900 messages that get an automatic ‘computer says no’ every day.
That’s far too many wasted opportunities to create great work that inspires, entertains and gets talked about. For whatever reason, there are some industry folk who are scared of dreaming and afraid of aiming for greatness. They’ve lost their spark, now clock-watching and micro managing to only care about reaching the predetermined targets such as the 1% sales increase.
It’s fine if they don’t want to dream. Leave it to the ones who do, people like us. We are the dreamers, the creators, explorers and inventors. These days, we’re planners too. Well, we give a shit.
The industry calls us creatives, it’s the only way to put us in a box. However we like to think, you’ve guessed it, out of the box. Free to explore the world at large. Having flexibility to work with agencies one week and directly with the client the next. It’s always exciting, different and it’s how work works today. Being free means we can be anywhere and part of anything. Modern day nomads and travellers, seeking out unique insights into lives and cultures the world over. Seeing the bigger picture while keeping our eyes on popular culture, from the Far East to the west coast, and noting every subculture in between. Moving with the times, learning, evolving, adapting. Taking it all in to bring it out in new formed connections.
There’s more freedom being freelance. See more, experience more, do more. Free is in the name. Freelance feels noble and adventurous, and it should, as it’s meaning is derived from a medieval mercenary that would offer his combat skills and weapons to the highest bidder. He cared about executing his brief to the best of his ability in the time given. This is us. Blood, sweat and tears of paper are all part of it.
Some say being freelance means we don’t need to care about anything. Not the client agency relationship, last minute deadlines, working past 6pm, or whether the final result answers the brief and achieves results. They couldn’t be more wrong. To care about the job at hand is imperative, but for us, also second nature. We care more than we would if we were permanent, as we’re not part of agency politics, we’re not weighed down by routine, we don’t know the agency client history, all of which means we are not blinkered, but free to give it our all every time.
We’ve got the best of all worlds. Time off when we want to, time to rest, it’s the recharge we all need. Then we’re best placed to deliver that work, the energy, a new passion, new ideas, focus without prejudice. Venturing to new territories where we can mine for the extraordinary without distraction, without walls, barriers and red tape. Working in our non-traditional way, working with no agenda, no people fear, political Bermuda triangles where the work gets lost.
Being freelance, we’re often dropped in at the last minute. So keeping up to date on the industry and what’s happening outside is crucial. Ensuring our ability to stay nimble, moving quickly to make a difference, since we don't have the luxury of a 30-day plan, we hit the ground running. Answering the brief, delivering on deliverables or making our own. We’re results-orientated so it’s all about the work. Nothing else matters but the coffee machine.
For us, freelance has always been a journey beyond the comfort zone and past tried and tested formulas. Every client and brand becomes our baby. This means we become the surrogates, caring and nurturing it until it’s launched into the big wide world. And being two surrogate Asian males in this industry and in this day in age… you can’t get more pro-diversity than that.
No matter the size of project, the agency, the entire team involved, we’re open to sharing thoughts and opinions. Sharing is caring as they say. Collaboration is essential to problem solving. Whatever the challenge may be, we’re committed to making a real difference.
If you need a team that gives a shit don’t call the A-Team, call asiancreatives. Cue the music - bhangra style.
Anuj Shah - Global editor-in-chief