Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wishing I could work for free...

This is the thought which was running through my mind as I was driving in the morning. This is not some crazy rambling of some insane mind but it is the truth.

You see the past couple of months I have been doing a lot of pro bono work while I have been letting my colleagues concentrate more on the agencies regular clients . And I was blissfully happy. Like a pig in shit. Why? Because for once I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was dispensing advice on strategy on positioning on promotion and it was being well receieved and appreciated. For once I felt alive and life had purpose and I was juiced up! Even though I was not making any money it felt absolutely wonderful. You see most of these people had been working with small production outfits who were actually glorified computer operators who really did not have the knowledge on the "craft" of advertising. All what they were getting was a square filled with pretty pictures and meaningless words.

And suddenly they realized what they were missing out by NOT working with a professional agency. Anyway this led me to think that is there a business model out there where an agency can work for free? Making quality advertising accessible to small businesses thereby making them more competitive.

I know this sounds crazy. Even I thought I should get my head examined and was about to reach for the phone when I had a flashback of an excellent presentation I atteneded a long time ago by Edward de Bono on lateral thinking. Well he was a fading international speaker but what he had to say still made sense. He said imagine a restaurant without food. Or a restaurant where you pay by the time you occupy it. These were some of the examples he used to illustrate his point. Which was that if you were wanting to truly innovate within a specific sector then you need to imagine that product or service without an element you normally would consider integral to it.

Whilst a restaurant without food may seem absolutely crazy at first, once you begin to dwell on it then you realize it begins to make sense. Imagine a place where you can go and eat your food while you are travelling and you pay a fee to use the facilities. A place which is airconditioned has decent toilets and tables and chairs? I sure could use a place like that when I am on the road specially with my family. You see it makes sense.

And the more I think about it an advertising agency which works for free funded by donors to create quality work for small businesses begin to make more and more sense. Just like you would have NGOs who help people to set up businesses and become economically self reliant. Or other organisations that provide leagal aid or medical aid for that matter. We could have "Ad Aid" or "advertising sans frontiers".

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