Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Show Me The Honey

In my daily newspaper perusing I have noticed some recent articles that feature people being pretty old school about their secondary sources of income. First, there was this story about London encouraging its citizens to become urban beekeepers:

And while the push from the government probably has a lot to do with helping repopulate a declining honeybee population, all that honey to sell (especially in honey-loving England!) would certainly be a sweet source of additional income in this economy.

But beekeeping is not the only traditional skill that is being re-explored. Yesterday's USA Today had this story about panning for gold:

Panning for gold?! Could there be a cooler way to make some extra cash? I could grow a dirty beard, pull on some old Levi’s and learn to spit chewing tobacco like in the olden days. (After all, some people think that’s the look I’m going for anyway…!)
So what’s next? Horseshoeing? Bloodletting? Witch burning? Count me in.

But I think there is a more serious message in this trend: traditional skills and business plans should not be ignored as we search out new models and innovation. The fact is that traditional media is not redundant and the skills that produce traditional media are still relevant. At Framestore we may have new digital madmen who know how to program crazy alternate realities and who have the skills to take our animations and have them step right off the page, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still need the artist who creates that animation. We can’t toss the old models out entirely because the new models are still being formed. Our aim is to bring those skills that result in us producing Oscar winning images to any platform of distribution.

Change takes time to reach all levels of our industry and just because one aspect is innovating or expanding doesn’t mean the old standards are not still profitable and desired. A comScore dunnhumbyUSA survey was just released that says online adveritsing can be as effective as television advertising in helping increase retails sales of consumer package goods brands. They track online advertising as lifting retail sales at an average of 9% and television lifts CPGs 8%.

That survey is remarkable for two reasons. Yes, this is proof that on-line advertising can work. Surprisingly, that has still been up for debate in certain circles. But also, television is still very effective at lifting sales. To put all of our energy into one area at the expense of the traditional, still effective, area does not make sense. We should be innovating but we should not be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.
I can’t imagine a more interesting time to be working in an industry like this that is straddling traditional media and new media, traditional tools and new models. We are among the lucky few who can make honey and, who knows…maybe even strike gold.