Media Perspective: Blurring the borders online is not good for feeding rivalries

There can be few industries outside of technology that have taken to the many tools and applications of the social media revolution with the alacrity of advertising.

Adland is blogging, twittering, sharing ads on YouTube, closing down MySpace accounts and opening them up in Facebook with an enthusiasm we used to reserve for selling fags and fatty food ... and I'm more than a little worried.

Not about the usual chief executive whinge about how their people find the time to maintain an online life when that's the only kind of life their jobs will allow. Nor the planning luminary's concern that being able to look the answer up on the internet, rather than by commissioning reams of insight-free consumer research, is dumbing down the serious intellectual business of repositioning yellow fats.

No. What worries me is that all this online fraternisation is making us like each other too much. And possibly, heaven forbid, respect each other. This simply will not do.

Many industries are characterised by camaraderie and respect between colleagues in competitive firms. But advertising is not one of them.

To win in this competitive business, you have to have the killer instinct, a belief that for you and your agency to succeed, others have to fail. Well I don't know about you, but I find it harder to stick the knife into another agency's new-business record if I've been twittering about my bowel movements with their head of planning the night before.

Our business thrives on the idea there are only two types of people in adland: brilliant and crap. With the inevitable assumption that we are all brilliant and they are all crap.

That kind of delusion can only be maintained if you have no idea who anyone is outside your agency, and still less like any of them. That's why British and German generals took such a dim view of the impromptu football matches that took place between the trenches of northern France.

Sure, we have always allowed some fraternisation among the upper echelons under strictly controlled conditions, and providing that it doesn't get back to the lower orders. Usually over lunches at the IPA or a sweet sherry or two at the Campaign A-List party.

But everyone in adland is now doing this social media stuff, chattering away, building relationships, sharing work and swapping ideas with no respect for traditional agency rivalries or tribal loyalties. To top it all off, this new spirit of chumminess is bringing people together across disciplines - ad people with direct people, creative people with media people, analogue people with digital people. And, believe it or not, some are even getting buddy/buddy with foreigners.

That kind of carry-on is the way revolutions start.

- Russell Davies is away.