Wade Davis's "Light at the Edge of the World" explores how cultures vary based on the environments in which they are situated. He argues that distinctions like "primitive" or "advanced" are subjective –Australian aborigines, the Inuit and contemporary English culture represent not points on a logical evolutionary line, but "different choices".
I was thinking about the technological environments in which different cultures live, when I read a quote by Adrian Mendonza, a creative head of Dentsu in India. In a recent interview, he predicted that in Indian interactive marketing, “web films will be the next big thing”.
The 46MM people online (up 43% YoY) in India seem to use interactive services intensely, and interactive engagements shoulod clearly be a part of a strategy - but is a webfilm-centric strategy responsible, or even relevant for an Indian marketer, given the current reality of the technological infrastructure through which those delightful films would need to pipe? A candy mountain of hopes and dream is not what I would be spending my marketing dollars on to drive sales.
[The crowd at Pushkar Fair, eagerly awaiting Dentsu's web films]
A clear-eyed take on the actual communications frameworks on the ground is necessary before a relevant communications platform can be built, and an idea unleashed. For starters, far more Indians have mobile devices than computers. Why, then, isn’t “mobility the next big thing” for Indian marketers?
Webfilms? Ring ring : clue phone. It's for you.
And therein lies the problem: so much of the smoke blown up marketer’s tailfeathers about digital strategy and technological solutions, aren’t. “Strategic” or a “solutions”, that is.
Just because something’s technically possible, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for a particular brand, but that sometimes gets lost in the rush to submit a masturbatory, flash-heavy, bandwidth-choking Cyberlion contender. There are too many interactive holes for marketers to pour their dollars into for agencies to jerk them around like that.
We have to have an understanding and deep respect for the technocultural environments through which our [successful] ideas propagate. Build a high
bandwidth site in a dial up country, and you lose. Pop a semacode
campaign in a market where no-one's downloaded the reader, and you're
done. Fail to port your mobile app to the right devices with the
highest penetration, waa waaaah.
Our cultures are being rewired on tech gumbos of varying speeds, capacitances, compatibilities and penetration rates. Not better or worse, but different. And despite the unique qualities of each culture, collectively, they enable the greatest idea propagation framework ever built. Our challenge is to leverage that framework effectively and sensitively – to create real human connections. Otherwise this vast tech edifice is soulless dreck.
We get to "bring the heat" to that framework. But even when we play global cricket, the 'overs' are local.