I was wondering on and off this year what to make of the fact that OffWhite will enter into our 30th year in a couple of weeks. Half of me wants to celebrate it. The other half doesn’t care.
We started in February, 1985. I’m smarter now than I was then.
Is longevity a virtue? Is it a unique selling proposition? Does OffWhite history have any meaning beyond ourselves, or, more specifically, should you – our client – expect something you can’t find from any other marketing firm in the whole wide world?
The truth is, in this business, we have to renew ourselves every day. If we miss a day, it’s likely that some new technology, app, social media tool or cloud-based solution will have entered our orbit and rained down more buzzwords to scare away the cats.
None of this is new, but in our world, the rate of change has accelerated and our clients have gotten younger and more eager to deploy the next best marketing tool, even though they might not have the slightest idea why.
It’s our job to jerk the leash. New app? So what. Cost benefit? Show me.
When it comes to the fundamentals of marketing – more specifically, marketing communications or marcom – the pathways continue to evolve, but the basics remain rooted in human nature. Thank God for that, or we would all spin out of control.
We live amid a litany of passwords and platforms, of top ten lists and best practices, innovation and ideas within our own company and among our clients, most of whom are technology geniuses with important solutions to bring to market. Yet the business of explaining things – our business – remains as stable as our collective curiosity, an OffWhite prerequisite for coming to work. In thirty years, this fundamental need has remained constant.
As I wrote several years back in my piece on Stranded Technology, there is no value in an idea that cannot escape the sawdust floor. Brilliant though a new product may be, someone has to explain it, lift it smartly and place it in context with the rest of the world, switch it on and help it illuminate our slice of the market, edge the competition, overcome ignorance and ultimately sell, sell, sell.
Today, the sophistication of media places a heavy burden in the crafting of the message. Somehow, these messages must complement one another, a concept we understood thirty years ago, and one that permeates our business today simply because what we dreamed for is a dream come true- accountability in marketing.
Around 1964, about the time I was emerging from an adolescent coma induced by J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye (he uses the f-word five times in this book), Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian philosopher and visionary of communications, advertising and even the internet (more than 30 years before it was invented) wrote his seminal work Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, wherein he coined the phrase “the medium is the message”. Just think; he knew nothing of websites and social media, but he was way ahead of his time.
Fast forward to today at OffWhite, where we are eager to talk of our digital marketing platforms, our integration with social media, our ability to explain things, and our passion to grow with companies who want to grow with us. The basics of what we do remain rooted in human nature. Amid the tools and technologies that have reduced our world to a global village (another phrase by Marshall McLuhan), the desire to innovate is strong, our need to learn is what drives our business, and our relationships among our staff and with our clients are the most important precepts to our proficiency and integrity in business and beyond.
Thirty years. So what?
Here’s what. We survived the first Mac, the internet and dot com revolution, the tidal wave of digital design and publishing, the false starts and spammers, the wannabees and fakes, and the logo police.
Today, we’ve collected the best, most fundamentally sound team of no-nonsense writers, designers, programmers and project managers who have the sense to sort out what’s important and what’s a waste of time and money.
Thirty years. At OffWhite, we’re smarter than ever, and learning something new every day. I’m proud of us all.