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Silver Linings in the New Advertising Playbook


By Bob Winter 

Maybe sometimes you find yourself lamenting the new ad playbook. Maybe sometimes you find yourself having to look up the word lamenting to make sure you’re using it the right way. The point is: in this high-pressure, do more for less environment it’s easy to miss things like big budgets, long timelines, high craft and high trust—but it helps me to try to look at the silver linings in all of it. Maybe it’ll help you, too.

Silver lining #1: You get to make more stuff.
The new playbook says think fast, produce faster. On the one hand this means less time to think, less time to craft. No month-long stays at Shutters. No renting bicycles while the film was loaded. (Oh also, no film.) But on the other hand, it also means we get to make much more stuff. Like a lot more. With the old playbook we were lucky to produce one or two great pieces of work we really loved in a year. In the new playbook we can make 20 things a day. And the short turnaround can mean less overthinking, and less pressure on each piece to do everything. Learn fast, make fast, repeat.

Silver lining #2: You can find an audience anywhere.
The new playbook says less spending on big media exposure. So it’s not as easy to get tons of eyeballs and attention on your work. But guess what? Now you can get famous in one tweet. You can find a million-person audience with something stupid you made on your phone. You can’t buy your way to an audience, but you can earn it in a heartbeat. Lots of things can be ‘ads.’ And you have way more tools to solve problems and make cool shit.

Silver lining #3: More people to play with.
The new playbook says fewer long-standing relationships between clients and agency partners. And this can mean it’s less secure and even less predictable than ever. But the truth is you’ve always had to earn trust, and in long-term client relationships you can get complacent with each other. The new playbook allows you to jump in, solve a problem and if it works keep doing it. It’s not about anything other than proving yourself, and finding people who have the same dreams and want the same things. Plus you get to learn about lots of different types of problems and businesses. You don’t get stuck in the same way of thinking because you can’t. The con is: everything changes. And the pro is: everything changes.

Silver lining #4: A great idea can come from anywhere, any time.
You might have noticed there are fewer people doing all the work. This can be daunting and sometimes exhausting. But in the old playbook, a creative had to spend years putting in their time to maybe someday get a shot at a great assignment. Now, you can walk in any agency and knock one right out of the park on day one. No waiting! As a result, every day is full of opportunity and every day is a chance to prove to yourself and everyone else you don’t suck.

Silver lining #5: Good people find good people (and not so good people don’t).
In the new playbook good people who act with empathy, positivity and respect tend to gravitate toward each other and amplify that spirit. Still, some people still feel empowered to act selfishly, demand anything and take advantage of talented and hard-working people. And guess what? The plus side of that is… wait, nothing. That just sucks. Everyone should stop doing that.


Bob Winter | Partner, Executive Creative Director
An industry-leading talent, Bob spearheads creative development for some of the world’s leading companies. He has a storied career in developing cross-functional solutions, working in collaboration with experts in digital, data and analytics, and strategy. At VSA, Bob leads creative for clients such as AB InBev, Google, Nike, Hayneedle, Kraft-Heinz, Kimberly-Clark, among others. Recently he led creative on the “Kleenex. Someone Needs One” campaign which was honored by top awards shows and won a Silver Effie as one of Kimberly-Clark’s most successful campaigns in history. Others might recognize Bob’s name as the creator of Bud Light’s “Real Men of Genius” campaign. Outside of the agency sphere, he recently completed a short film titled Beth about the backstory of the famous KISS song of the same name. His work is also in the MoMA’s permanent collection. Contact Bob at