Early Adoption

On the occasions that I’ve been given a brief that mentions ‘early adopters’, I always think of these people with some degree of envy.

They’re the kind of trendy bastards who know when and where to find the super-limited-edition, obscure-Japanese-artist-designed Nike trainers; they know where the secret gigs of the tiny bands are taking place a year before they blow up on MySpace, and they went on holiday to Iceland when I thought it was made entirely of ice.

In short, they don’t really exist, but they made me feel a little insecure.

But not any more.

It might be something to do with the splurge of the internet, but it doesn’t feel like anyone’s personal taste is better or worse than anyone else’s. The received wisdom is that the long-tail fragmentation of people’s interests and its validity has meant that the superiority and inferiority of individual opinion has all but dissipated. Hooray.

But that’s not all: recent stampedes in the direction of the Next Big Thing have not necessarily resulted in a great endorsement for getting in on the ground floor.

For example, the absolute, 100%, complete fucking NEED to do the digital thing has definitely cooled. I’m certainly not saying that digital is neither cool, big, or relevant (of course, it’s all those things); it’s just that it’s not the THING YOU MUST FUCKING DO RIGHT FUCKING NOW that it was said to be a year ago. Instead, it’s seeping in gently and relentlessly like the long-term thing it’s going to be, but you can hang back and watch where it’s heading for a little while yet.

Ditto (and somewhat related) is Second Life. Does anyone know if Leo Burnett or BBH’s agencies are still offering advertising in the virtual world where men pretend to be children so that they can be ‘abused’ by virtual adults? Did any of you buy Second Life real estate, cursing your luck at not being able to secure the prime beachfront location?  How many T-shirts did you purchase with Second Life currency just so your avatar could look like a groovy prick?

And then there’s the mass exodus of cool agency life to the East End of London. The current residents are Mother, W&K and…and…I’d name a few digital shops but I can’t remember which ones are there. The East End is brilliant, stimulating and a breath of fresh air from the stagnant Central London locations of the rest of adland, but that still hasn’t tempted anyone else to make the move (Grey headed in that direction, but didn’t quite finish the journey).

So, the lesson here is go your own way. Or go the same way as everyone else. Or wait and see.

Just don’t bother adopting early. For every John Lennon, Leo Tolstoy and Malcolm X, there’s a…bunch of adoptees who have been, frankly, crap.