[ IMAGE VIA SPELL WITH FLICKR ]
Sometimes cultural theorists will talk about the ‘crisis of representation’.
Roughly speaking, this refers to the fact that it is impossible to represent any concept, idea or ‘thing’ without resorting to some form of representation, be it visual, verbal and/or audio, and that ultimately, this representation will influence how the ‘thing’ is perceived and interpreted, for better, or for worse.
For example, not everyone cares about what they look like with regards to fashion (your dad or boss perhaps?), yet, like it or not, in part, they will still be judged by how they (re)present themselves. Even the subject that I’m blogging about now is being brought into view by representation. It’s being shaped by the design of the blog; the words that I am using to explain it; the medium on which you are viewing it etc. etc.
The upshot of all this for marketing is a rather worrying one: how do we successfully ‘represent’ our great ideas in all their HDTV, digital, Dolby-surround-sound glory? If it fails miserably, how do we know whether it was the fault of the idea or execution? Moreover, can a great idea make up for a poor execution? And can a great execution make up for a poor idea? And so the tension between strategists and creatives is born: “you’re not doing justice to my idea says the strategist” … “that’s because I’m working in a straight-jacket says the creative!”
You might be relieved to hear that it is not my intention to try and crack these questions here (that’ll errrr … follow in 2009!), but what I’d like to do is draw attention to the potential of representation.
For example, despite the retail cashier’s and e-tail sites telling you that this
Rather, we have
£35 of quick-dry iPod paint
£34 of blooming art nouveau
£49 of translucent glowing jelly
a £44 fluffy cloudscape formation
and a £40 swirl-tastic rollerball. Well, kind of.
And as well as this nice TV ad, there’s also plenty of other outdoor BA pricing gems dotted around the urban landscape at the moment (well, throughout the London Underground at least), that might be of interest to the ardent design-enthusiast-cum-ad-spotter.
Taking a cue from my blog ethos above then (sidebar, top right), perhaps this helps to support my proposal that nothing exists outside of cultural representation; why strategy cannot be divorced from execution; and ultimately, why, if you ignore design, you do so at your peril. But rather than viewing representation as a ‘crisis’ (those nihilistic postmodern pessimists eh!), why not (re)frame it as ‘potential’?
Sorry, I’m conscious that I’m turning into a bit of preaching sod that just tends to ‘blog at people’. So please, cometh 2.0 interactionists, tell me I’m talking a pile of thingy, but remember to think carefully about how you ‘represent’ it first … I wouldn't want anyone to make the same foolish mistakes I do! ;)