The World's Leading Independent Agencies 2010: Walker

The future isn't advertising, according to Pius Walker, but the brilliant ideas that lie behind it.

The World's Leading Independent Agencies 2010 is a Campaign advertising supplement published for thenetworkone.

In 80 years' time, we will all be dead. No offence to the 20-year-old reader about to dig into his zero-cholesterol tofu salad, heading for the daily yoga class. But chances are that you, too, will be resting in ultimate peace by then. It's a fact and no fortune-teller will get a cent telling you.

So why even bother reading on? Shouldn't we all run out of our offices and forget about everything? We could but, then again, 80 years is a long time running and there is simply too much to discover before we have to leave this place.

So you are still reading and wondering what it all has to do with advertising. The truth is: nothing. And that is the situation our industry seems to be stuck with.

Life, the single most important thing, and advertising has nothing to do with it. Why? Because life will always be bigger than the billboards at Piccadilly Circus. Life simply does not fit into the formats and boxes adland has created for it.

According to the frenetic discussions about new media within our industry, the way out of the problem is apparently to create new boxes. We let the iPad do the "connecting with the consumer" bit and are proudly introducing plans for our new, cool ad to be streamed directly on to the laps of daily commuters.

But will the iPad change the world for us? Of course not. Not even the invention of the paper changed it. It was and always will be the ideas behind the printing that change things.

So where does that leave us ad people? In the ideas business, the greatest industry there is and simply the place to be in the future. Because it's all about ideas, and with more and more ways to distract the limited attention span of the people we talk to, the value of the outstanding ones will increase to new highs.

But it's the freedom of where we see our ideas working in the future that will make the difference. Some of us still seemed to be turned off by the thought that the answer to an advertising brief isn't another commercial or a poster campaign. But a great idea planted earlier within the value chain is very likely to be so much more intriguing and effective. "Think different" and "Just do it".

It's time for us to truly live up to all those great sentences we've created. Sitting in the last Cannes Lions jury, the ideas that made me the most jealous, and therefore the most proud of working in our industry, are the ones that did exactly that. "Yubari Resort", "Queensland: The best job in the world", "Red Cross: Store that sells hope" and "The National Gallery's Grand Tour", to name a few. They are all successful ideas because they are more than just advertising.

And yet, there is no need to scratch the word advertising from our business cards. Because, if we do our job well, it still will have the effect that great advertising has. Nor does it mean that a compelling story told within a 30-second TV ad is no longer a persuasive way to get a message across. At least, as long as we are still watching telly.

But our ideas can do so much more for our clients when they are not measured in seconds. If we don't limit ourselves, our ideas truly have the power to last a lifetime. The best ones even longer than that. So if you ever wanted to create something that leaves a scratch on the wall of eternity: this is the place and this is the time.

I like to think that a small agency is a good place to get started because it's less comfortable and less attached to routine thinking. You are not going to change the world when you are big because you are too much part of it.

Within that thought lies perhaps the most motivating reason to be creative. All memorable pieces of culture, art and science have originated from one single mind.

After 20 years in the business, to me the most intriguing thing is still the purity of that fact; the simplicity of our product and the fact that we have the chance to create the biggest value with just a thought, a pen and a piece of paper. And it will still be that way when we start to wire our messages directly into the minds of the consumers.

Pius Walker is the leading creative and founder of walker (




Martin Arnold, copywriter; Cornelia Nunlist, management; Pius Walker, founder and leading creative


Zurich, Shanghai

What would you like to see more of in 2010?
More confidence within our industry because we have every reason to have it

Which country's creativity (other than your own) do you most admire?
I admire outstanding ideas regardless of their origin