Integration Essays: Why are you here?

Isn't it time we thought as humans rather than as marketers, and focused less on better advertising and more on better experiences?

So, why are you here?

Well, first, the bad news: you're here because you work in advertising. The jokes used to be about lawyers at the bottom of the sea; now it's us. And people are right to put us there too. When was the last time we actually made the world a better place with our thinking? Instead, we've been cluttering things up with more of the same, mostly irrelevant, noisy messages. Treating people like idiots. Even bleating at them, interrupting them. Getting it wrong.

Don't get me wrong, some of you can say different, very different. Your work might be brilliant, even iconic. It stands out a mile. That's the point. Everything else doesn't.

We need to be doing things differently. We know so much more than we ever did. Yet we behave the same as we always have. It's amazing that when we talk about audiences we "know", we still use phrases like "She's 24 to 38 and she likes shopping with her friends". And when Microsoft makes a film like this one, it tells us that things have changed for good (http://uk.youtube.com/user/wearegt).

Now the good news: there is another way. In this clip (http://uk.youtube.com/user/wearegt), a very funny Dudley Moore illustrates the benefits of "levelling with people". Now, I'm not sure that Dudley's particular headline - "Jaguar, for men who like hand-jobs from beautiful women they hardly know" - or even his poster for The Freak entitled "This movie won't just scare you, it'll fuck you up for life!" is necessarily the right answer. (I'd love it if it were.) But what matters, and what Dudley is helping us to understand, is that just shouting in a pre-defined media space with our marketing voices only serves to make us loud.

Being heard is crucial, but it's just as crucial to be valued at the same time. Most importantly, to be valuable from the moment you start speaking, so that you actually create time with your audience, not just spend it. It means you can change people's behaviour; creating things they value.

The new way means our work can resonate and become relevant, wanted and real. This is something we remodelled GT to do in January 2007 and we've never looked back. We call it Thinking Human.

Thinking Human goes beyond platforms, and fits into people's lives in a way they want, when they want it. In the end, it means creating things that people value. Because people don't think in platforms. We have lives, not just marketing opportunities.

Take an ordinary day. As you walk down the street checking your mobile phone, you'll pop into a bank to pick up a useful leaflet, you'll glance at a poster with some mention of a great service and notice a bus-side ad for a new interactive exhibition. Shortly after arriving at work, you'll pick up your post, fire-up your laptop and start your day, probably online.

Now, on your journey, you didn't ever think "Media fragmentation, it's upon me!" You were just walking to work, interacting with brands, content and stories. Stories that, if they were good enough, interesting and valuable enough, you'd tell to others. Stories that you'll want to keep around you, available to you when you want them.

Thinking Human means that brand experiences should reflect this. They should be intuitive and imaginative and credit their audiences with intelligence. They should understand how they fit into someone's day. Most of all, they should be genuinely rewarding. When was the last time you sat at a dinner party and listened to the bloke across the table talk about himself all night? You probably didn't. You were probably wishing you'd be saved by someone more interesting; most importantly, by someone who was interested in you.

This is something we remind ourselves of all the time. Over the past 12 years, we've been working with Audi to make digital channels as valuable to them and their audiences as possible. In this clip, you'll see some work we recently did for the launch of the A5. We turned it away from being a mere burst campaign into an experience that stayed with the audience far beyond TV, outdoor and online. It gave them rich content, sharable experiences, social currency and exclusive invitations: things they could do, discuss, enjoy and repeatedly return to. Take a look at http://uk.youtube.com/user/wearegt

People don't think in platforms. If we, as marketers, don't either, then we'll have a more value-based economy to work within. Which would no doubt help us all evolve our agencies and we would finally achieve something that we at GT think is most important: a world with less advertising but better experiences. Experiences that continue to confound expectation, surprise audiences, and change the way people think about products and services. Where our ideas and the brands we represent will have become relevant and valuable. A world where our industry will finally think and do as our audiences - we humans - do.

So when you're next looking at a brief, ask yourself: "Will this brief help make our client's world, our audience's world and our agency's world a better place for having been there? Is it going to be something someone will actually value? Will it be interesting and relevant? Or is it just yet more product-focused, price-driven drivel that'll keep us at the bottom of the sea?" (http://uk.youtube.com/user/wearegt)

Ask yourself: "Why are you here?"

- Marc Giusti is the creative partner at GT.