Monday, February 22, 2010

Being Digital At Lancaster University

Last week, along with Tom Eslinger, our Worldwide Creative Head of Digital, I was up at Lancaster University talking to HighWire students about our digital world. These PhD’s with interests in computer science, all things digital, and management, represent in many ways a microcosm of our future. We talked about a lot but the key thing on my mind was that digitization, and the power of the Internet and the mobile, should be the most liberating forces ever for creativity. We believe at Saatchi & Saatchi in the unreasonable power of creativity and nothing can set this free more than being digital.

I’m working with my youngest son, Danis, on a venture in the UK which hopes to bring back some economic sense to one of the UK’s most creative industries – music. For me the Internet is where true artists will thrive and where the exploiters and manipulators, who have been sucking their lifeblood for decades, will disappear. Galleries who take 50% of their artists’ revenue, publishing houses who take pretty much all of the net proceeds of written works, and the record labels are all facing tough times if not oblivion. Every artist, author, and musician can now bypass all these institutions and create their own distribution model and their own fan base.

As I was talking to the HighWire students, I was stressing the need for all creative folks nowadays to invest time in understanding the Internet and basic economic management in order to create new, sustainable business models with ideas and creativity at the core. Instead of being frightened of technology in business, true creative people should welcome learning about this as just another extension of their own art. Digital technology means there are no barriers of scale or production to distributing great ideas and if our artists and our academic institutions can see this then we are on the verge of a real creative renaissance.