Do we need More Things?

I was reading an article by Paul Belford (who’s work you’ve probably seen millions of times and never realised it. As a designer for the ad industry for years and years and years he’s art-directed amazing work.) ‍Anyway, he was rambling (in an enjoyable way) about how new technology gets an easy ride when it comes to planning how to reach people – over say, old tech. Like ads and stuff.‍

I guess his point (and mine for bringing it along to the argument here) is, and I know, I know, it’s well trodden ground this media versus that media stuff, but this idea of whether we need more things won’t go away.‍For all the benefits more things per thing give us there’s always seems to be a diminishing return.‍I can get a hundred channels on my TV (well, from my Freeview box. Which I guess is the tv then? So already I have two things) but filling all that digital space up requires more ads. More ‘this programme is proudly sponsored by…’ spots. More re-runs. Repeats. And little to actually watch.‍ So we (well, you, not me, I hate them) switch to streaming services. Now I have so much more choice but do I have better choices?

The over-supply drives people to binge-watch. And why is that? Maybe just because we selfishly can?And all that seems to do is leave us hungrier. Grab- and Sharing-bags don’t get shared, we eat the lot and fidget between one device and another in a constant state of searching, as all this ‘more stuff’ simply lets us.It affords us.I don’t think it rewards us though.

The tables have turned on the content consumer.

We’re the ones being consumed.

Literally pulled from pillar to the next post with our inattention or inability to focus.‍

So can I make a suggestion? The next time someone commissions you to help to get a message across, can you ask them to write down what they want the audience to do with this thing they want to sell (as that’s what you’re doing – selling) – that is better than the current or old thing? ‍You’ll likely find that focus helps work out a. if anyone needs this new thing or b. if the new thing isn’t new or better, how to start improving it so it’s c. not just another thing.

And get them to do it on the back of an envelope. Pencil’s optional.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

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