For a while now I've been becoming increasingly jaded with agency life. I left ad agency life 8 years ago to work in digital agencies. Like so many who make this transition my reasons were predicated on creating things of real value and utility. The hard truth I've come to accept is that I haven't really ended up making anything of value to anyone apart from the brands I've helped prop up with online brand comms masquerading as digital services. There is a well trodden saying in the marketing community: 'Nothing kills a bad product quicker than good advertising'. The great skill of the traditional advertising creative team was to take a product, try to find a special or unique thing about it (there often wasn't anything different or special about it), and spin a human narrative of entertainment, emotion and desire complete with some succinct, clever copy. This is the great craft of advertising - wrap a dull/crap product in layers of emotion and creativity in order to create desire. The sad truth about digital agencies, even the very best of them like R/GA, is that 90% of the time the products that clients bring you to promote are still inherently flawed and undifferentiated. Beautiful layers of interaction, experience, service, social sharing etc wrap these products in a very similar the same way that advertising does, but underneath all these layers there often exists a fundamentally crap product, the semblance of value disappears once you get the the product. Control of product development in companies doesn't sit with the marketing teams therefore agencies aren't generally involved in the product until the proposition stage. Bad product is something I simply couldn't get close to fixing as long as the majority of my clients are in the marketing function of businesses.
Enter Fluxx, and a new chance for me. I'm trying to set up a Product Lab that will work with CTO, CIO and other business owners to catalyse ideas into products. A shortage of idea isn't the problem for businesses (see this post) surmounting the day-to-day processes, and bringing ideas into being is. By running methodologies of manufacturing combined with the creative lab process perfected by PAL for writers and film makers, Fluxx Labs will develop products in tandem with clients and end-users to deliver new products to deliver real value to people and new streams of revenue for businesses. I've been working on the proposition for a few weeks now, and meeting Fluxx clients. I'msurprised how many clients have already expressed an interest in this way of working; the trick now is to prove the methodology by putting it into practise.