Small firms can find it hard to match the energy, world class talent and diversity that make larger companies so competitive. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Start a business with less than 10 employees and you’ll soon discover how quickly your co-workers can seem dull. No matter how much you like them, walking into a small office with just the 6 of you feels as eerily quiet as church on a Tuesday morning.
Smallness can eventually work against you, as talent migrates out to rival firms with a mailroom bigger than your entire office and opportunities pass you by because you lack the scale and diversity needed to solve complex problems.
Realizing that we were not the only consultancy facing this challenge, we launched Kongo: our opportunity to surround ourselves with some of the brightest independent professionals and start-ups in the media and creative industries.
We opened over 5,000 square feet of beautifully designed loft-space to a small group of world-class designers, researchers, writers, producers, motion graphics experts, innovators and foreign correspondents. Some of our colleagues include FireFish USA (research), Positron (experiential design engineers), A Different Engine (UX design), Messaging Lab (biotech), QuesttoNo (product design), SmartAssDesign and Machine (innovation and design)
Based in Dumbo, the heart of New York’s most vibrant start-up community, we now collectively enjoy the resources of larger Madison Avenue agencies, with none of the politics.
“Are you in marketing? kill yourself” famously said comedian Bill Hicks.
According to Carl Cederström, when “Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that the pursuit of happiness was an unalienable right, he did not just intend to say that man should pursue pleasure, but that he should also have the right to acquire and possess property”.
In other words: Pleasure+Property=Happiness.
This relation between Happiness and Economic Performance is so entrenched that we use the same word to describe serious setbacks on either side of that equation: Depression.
Were Jefferson around today, he would probably love marketers: we help improve the world by informing consumers and fueling competition. This eventually translates into better, more affordable goods for all, creating jobs and growth along the way. More property, more pleasure: more happiness.
Others understand Happiness not as a fleeting state but a permanent one, reached through introspection and a deeper understanding of Life.
From this perspective, advertising helps fuel spiritual ADD, distracting society from the pursuit of Happiness, and instead tempting us with the rewards of Joy, which are ephemeral.
A new dress, car, stereo or a vacation are thus Joy Fuel: acquisitions that give us a rush of a temporary wellbeing, that disappears as soon as new events unfold or the novelty wears out.
But worry not, we just launched this brand new shiny thing: In a society driven by instant gratification, years of spiritual work can seem too daunting a task when an instant jolt of Joy can be acquired with two clicks of a mouse.
So while advertising isn’t any more evil than a hammer or a cup, it can enrich popular culture and our lives just as quickly as it can become the lubricant of our procrastinations, perpetually distracting us from the Pursuit of Happiness with the quick fix offered by the shiny Joy Fuel we are paid to sell.
Interestingly, research* indicates that the elder, precisely the section of society less impressed by brands, novelty and trends, are consistently happier than younger generations.