Tesla is truly revolutionizing the automotive world, and I cannot wait for its impact to become mainstream. For a little over a century the automotive industry has evolved along a linear continuum. The reality remains that few ideas have had the potential to turn the automotive industry on its head since Henry Ford’s disruptive innovation, which not only catapulted the industry, but humanity along with it.
But Tesla is really something else. It seems to be born of more than vision and determination. Rather, it is the product of something much bigger and overarching: the conviction to push and pull the rest of the world into an era where a novel mode of transport, the electric car, becomes mainstream, upends people’s thinking and reframes their vision and understanding of the automobile altogether. We are in for quite a ride.
Fascinating as the story of Tesla is, and will continue to be for quite some time, the automotive industry is not the only one experiencing shockwaves. We shift gears to the communication creative industry, which is increasingly under the spotlight and in the throes of disruptive industrialisation. And as one industry is seeing the birth of revolution, another is witnessing what appears to be a painful suffocation, though not necessarily at the hands of a better alternative.
At a time when the communication scene is evolving at hyper speed, the push to industrialise, commoditise and mass-produce creativity are becoming much more entrenched and widespread than ever before. Perhaps this is a reflection of a growing business demand, perhaps it is the product of a new business environment, and perhaps it is a natural by-product of an era where instant gratification and immediacy have become the norm as opposed to the exception. Whatever the precursors, the reality is that the combined pressures and influences are fundamentally undoing the communication ecosystem and causing it to change beyond recognition. They are also pushing a complete industry to denature and metamorphose into something still in the phase of convulsion, the outcome of which is totally speculative.
While it is only natural to expect an established industry to change with the times, and to demand it move faster, ultimately things need to take their time. The saying “it takes time for good wine to brew” is not without foundation and is not lacking in proof. Ultimately, this started as a highly entrepreneurial profession, whose initial founders were very much like Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder- driven by vision, conviction and determination to create a product with lasting changes on people’s behaviour and lives. This product has always been a labour of love, and has- like healthy green grass- always required sunshine, water and time.
The industrialisation of creativity is denaturing the industry because it is messing with its DNA and foundations. It is demanding that the industry becomes more fertile, prolific, move faster and produce better, ignoring the very foundations that led to its success in the first place. One such foundation is imaginative, curious people that are full of wonder, and the other is an environment where creativity thrives, preserving a spirit of fun.
Looking forward to the start of a new year ahead, what is clearly visible is that the drive to industrialise creativity will not recede simply because creative communication organisations are unable to change the behaviour of their clients because they are unable to impact their bottom lines. The absence of such influence means the lack of a deterrent, and as such the culprit behaviour will continue unabated.
If this is the case, and as we look forward to another challenging year, what can the creative communication industry do? Perhaps Tesla’s team can offer some comfort and direction as they keep an eye on the future and another firmly on current customer demands and needs. Tesla’s vice president of communications and marketing, Simon Sproule, initially said “Tesla took a fresh look at the auto industry and said: ‘What are the parts of the auto industry that consumers really don’t like? What are the changes that we can make to improve the experience?’, and then set about doing them.” But perhaps what best captures this is another thought he put forward, and that is “The kicker of any business is not just to give customers what they want today, but to give them something they realise that they want in the future.”
Can the creative communication industry take a fresh look at itself and address the above questions? Are we able to give our customers something they realise they want, and absolutely must have, in the future? Can we initiate projects that will actually derail all that we have built and still remain part of this ecosystem?
The creative communication industry faces many questions and has very few answers. In the meantime we are all part of a huge industrial operation that is using us as fuel. Here’s looking forward to 2015, as the year we will see some answers.