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Inspiration for every old idea is new again
The inspiration for this post on every old idea is new again came from my opening up Rakuten‘s Viber messaging app on my iPhone. Viber is a messaging platform and also does voice over IP, including out to the phone network. It is a hybrid of Skype and WhatsApp in terms of functionality. Viber is popular in parts of Asia, much of central and Eastern Europe, Greece and Russia – often as a second string to Telegram or Zalo.
I saw the following image in Viber.
Which took me right back to roughly the same time of the year back in 2012, when I worked at Ruder Finn and did a similar digital scratch card execution to promote The National Lottery scratch cards in the run up to Christmas.
I was fortunate to work with a great creative and technology team: Stephen Holmes and Dru Riches-Magnier on the project. The promotion was executed within a high security environment because Camelot’s IT standards were way beyond what we usually worked with.
Here’s the case study that I wrote up about the scratch card project in my portfolio.
This was the most stressful time I had during my time working at Ruder Finn and one of two high points in terms of the work that we did.
So when I saw the Rakuten Viber execution, I had a deja-vu moment and the epiphany that every old idea is new again.
Strawberry fields forever & the square mile
So how do we get to a point where every idea is new again? Years ago I used to DJ in bars, clubs and parties. A couple of young lads on a music production course saw a record label release one of their assignments to tap into the psychedelia and dance-indie hybrid sound. The record was a cover version of a Beatles track with a Soul II Soul type break beat underneath. It became successful and topped the charts.
There were a surprising number of people who didn’t realise that it was artfully created cover version of The Beatles, I even heard the original described as a poor version of Candy Flip.
Newness is a matter of perspective. This was brought home to at a talk that Damien McCrystal gave years ago. This was about the time that he was a business columnist at The Observer. I can’t remember the context but McCrystal said that the memory of ‘the square mile’ (think Wall Street in US parlance) was about eight years.
Which was the reason why the 2008 mortgage crash looked eerily like the savings and loans crisis of the 1980s. And that is despite most of the people in investment banks having a passing familiarity of Michael Lewis’ insider account Liar’s Poker which outlined how derivatives fuelled much of the 1980s Savings & Loans crisis.
I got to read it in college, despite having no interest in entering the world of finance. By and large I managed to stay clear of finance aside from being an in-house marketer early on in my career at what’s now HBOS and credit card provider MBNA. I also had a bit of early luck in my career timing, as I left MBNA before the payment protection insurance scandal hit the sector.
This was the classic example of every old idea is new again, but with the added wrinkle that a bad set of ideas can suddenly turn into good ones over time.
But as a strategist, this taught me to be careful on interventions pointing out a given concept is an old idea, given that every old idea is new again at some point.