A while ago I read a letter in the Daily Telegraph.
It was a letter that literally stopped me in my tracks because it forced me to re-evaluate something, that until that point, I had felt blindly passionate about.
While I could make myself feel better by acknowledging the situation the person raised has not been something I have ever faced, the fact I never even considered it bothers me.
Of course, there will be people out there who will say there are far more people who don’t face this situation than do and so to change it for the minority could undermine and hurt the majority – and I accept that – but it also highlights how as an industry, we tend to prefer focusing on the big commonalities of our audiences, rather than embrace the edges of how so many of them think and live their lives.
I get why, I honestly do … we are trying to find the broadest possible commonality across various segments of society because that enables us to create work with the broadest possible appeal. But as we all know, trying to engage everyone means you often end up engaging no one, plus there is the little fact that there’s no such thing as a ‘standard life’ and just because we have found a way to place people into a fairly simplistic set of characteristics doesn’t mean it reflects the tensions and concerns that are really going on in millions of peoples lives.
Of course exploring these broader edges impacts both time and money – factors many view as an expense rather than an investment – however the argument for doing it is not just that you will have a better understanding of what reality is for your audience [which lets you create work that actually means something to them rather than is more expensive wallpaper] but it reveals the potential implications of your idea/concept/action so you can identify problems before they happen or opportunities before you miss out on them.
This is not about diluting your point of view – that is arguably more important than it ever has been – however having a point of view that is built on simplistic understanding of what is going on means, at best, you end up with work that is noticeable rather than meaningful … which is a problem many agencies, brands and governments tend to confuse with each other.
So to Candice Baxter of Grimsby, thank you. I hope your daughter dreams are realised.
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