As I stand on the top of the tall building, the wind catches my hair. My voluminous gold cape blows behind me in the cold air. To complete the picture I have on a tight-fitting muscle-hugging tee, tights, and over that - golden underwear. I watch and wait to do what is right. To help a poor brand and rescue it from competition. I act in the day and sometimes at night; for I am…
Can we get a drum roll here? …THE AD-MAN of your life!
A Creative Director with claws sharper than Wolverine’s or a planner with the mind reading abilities of Professor Xavier. Even though many professionals in our industry have developed supernatural abilities in order to survive the adventurous world of advertising our commonalities with superheroes go beyond that.
Both superheroes and advertising professionals suffer from the “hero complex”.
The hero complex is an unconscious need to be needed, appreciated or valued, that disguises itself as a good thing, but threatens to destroy our industry. It is a compulsion to help make their world right. People (and industries) suffering from the Hero syndrome look for ways to validate themselves by doing “charity,” never being able to say no, and definitely by taking on more than they can possibly chew.
Each psychological syndrome produces a "knee-jerk" reaction to certain sets of circumstances. Our “knee-jerk” reaction is the notion of the big idea. The big idea – bred by the scarcity of media and the consequent need to be pithy and single-minded – created the impression that the brand can be saved with a single punch (or with a single message). But in order to succeed in a world of message fragmentation, media fragmentation, continuous partial attention (CPA), and non-existent day-after-recalls (DAR), one has to be simple and yet not eschew complexity: a task that’s easier said than done.
As Tim Harford explains in his sparkling talk from TED Global 2011, systems that survive in a complex world are built through trial and error. Let's get rid of our “hero complex” and embrace the randomness of our profession and start making mistakes, learning from these mistakes and optimizing our solutions. Instead of one big idea, let’s have a bunch of brilliant small ideas, optimized like software companies do.