I attended the CreativeNEXT round table discussion yesterday in St. Louis to hear from a panel of veterans in the agency business share their ideas about the state of the industry in St. Louis. Graphite Lab is not an ad agency, but area agencies look to us for our game design experience as it relates to usability on the web. So, I thought it would be good for us to understand the concerns and forecasts from some established studios in St. Louis.
I was most interested to hear their plans to move into a digital space as a way to stay relevant and escape the death that awaits creative teams that don’t evolve. Impending doom awaits any business that doesn’t innovate in some way. Social media dominated the following conversations and was unofficially considered an ‘area for innovation’. The panel reflected largely on the path social media has taken in reaching the masses, and offered insight about its strengths and pitfalls. Social Media campaigns are not for everyone, but can be incredibly useful as a tool to build or retain your audience. Panelists joked ‘if every client that asked for a “viral video” brought a nickel, they’d be rich’. This point exposes a problem.
Clients want the results that viral videos bring, but are skipping a step when they approach a creative team and ask for a “viral video”. Clients should instead be asking for connections to an audience, increased brand awareness, validation. The creative team works to pair their need with the right plan of attack.
As a video game designer, I can relate. Games engage and entertain in an active way. Games do these things on the shelf, online, through a social channel, on a tabletop. They have an appeal similar to the social scene but are also misunderstood like the “viral video”. I believe embracing brand-based gaming is very valid way for agencies to remain relevant and is an area of innovation. Of course, just like social media, not all brands can get behind a gaming tie in. If we do our job as game designers, any licensed product can be fun, but we have to do our part to match the need with the solution.