My article in #CantUnderstandNewTechnology

I was chuffed to be asked by @CamillaStore and @PlanBStudio to write something for the launch issue of #CantUnderstandNewTechnology

Design Week described it thus:

Riddled with swearing, childish humour and insider knowledge, Can’t Understand New Technology (no, we shan’t be using the acronym) is a new gossip rag for the Silicon Roundabout set.

Just my kind of thing. What I did was attempt to satirise the debate going on between Ad Agencies and Design Studios about who has the right to design products. I did it in the form of two blog posts, from opposite sides of the debate…

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# ZOMG! It turns out products are designed! Who’da thunk it? But — and get this — the people who’ve been designing them so far are too stupid to get rich off it! #

After six years of fiddling with our iPhones, rather than paying attention in dull client status meetings, we in Adland have finally caught on. This shit is designed!

So, despite the advertising business growing rapidly and going through a period of tremendously exciting change, we’re going to distract ourselves by talking and writing about how ‘the new frontier’ is designing products.

We’re doing this for several reasons.

Firstly, because we sense there’s money to be made, fast, by lowering standards. We did it with digital agencies in the 90s. We’ll get some of our young kids who want to have a crack at product design, and set them up with their ‘own’ agency. Then we’ll then flog it to all our big clients by undercutting the ‘design studio’ muppets who’ve been plugging away at this for years.

Secondly, because everybody who works in advertising pretty much hates advertising. But rather than channel our self-loathing into making better ads, we’re going to now try and make another sector shit too.

Thirdly, because product design is cooler than advertising at the moment. I mean check out the number of Fast Company articles, there’s fucking hundreds of them. And if there’s one thing that people who work in advertising care about more than anything else it’s being cool.

We haven’t really given much thought to what’s involved in designing products, but it can’t be that different to writing press ads can it? And we’ve got some really funny references off YouTube for the launch film.

Everybody who works in an ad agency is a tosser and wouldn’t know a product if it shat on them, so how on earth are they going to design them? Pricks.

It’s recently become achingly fashionable for big ad agencies to talk about product design. Like, as if. Let me tell you now that big ad agencies have no fucking right to talk about products. In fact, they shouldn’t even be allowed to use products. Yeah, that’s right. They should only be allowed to use commodities, services or experiences, but definitely not products.

Why?

Firstly, because big ad agencies are big. I mean, how clueless must they be if they’re big? They obviously have absolutely no idea about anything if all they’ve managed to do is build a huge, multinational agency network and sell it for hundreds of millions of pounds.

Secondly, people who work in big agencies are all, without fail, like the stereotypical 80s creative director: self-obsessed, lazy, talentless chancers who mistakenly believe they are making art. All they know how to do is make stuff that millions of people find entertaining. I don’t think you’ll find the Bauhaus was founded on that principle.

Thirdly, because big ad agencies cannot change. Look at them all, still sat on Madison Avenue, ‘writing’ and ‘art directing’ press advertisements for Hathaway Shirts. They haven’t even replaced all the native apps on their iPhones with cooler alternatives they found out about on Ars Technica. They’ve not managed to keep pace with the world we live in, they’re dinosaurs, and I hope they all die.

But mostly because I’m so fucking angry. I was into product design years ago when hardly anybody else knew about it. 17 years I’ve been in this game — 17 years of enduring endless, circular, whining debates about the difference between UX and UI. And Mr Jonny Fucking Adman thinks he can just steam in and take that all away from me. You haven’t paid your dues ponytail boy — now fuck off.

Written by

Leading a customer-led transformation at a PE-backed #SMEtech. Previously CSO at Albion, a business innovation consultancy.

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