A memo about the medium
In 1988, Dave Trott wrote an internal company memo to his then agency GGT. And in 2018 we’re still talking about it.
We’ve all read the memo by now*. And we’ve probably nodded in acknowledgement of a truth we all recognise. It’s about the challenge of doing things differently. And it’s as relevant today as it’s always been. There’s nothing I could possibly say that would add to the clarity of Dave’s message.
But what about the medium?
My first agency boss called them Infernal Memos: A nuisance, a necessary evil, and even in 1988 a throwback to a stuffier, stiffer, and more bureaucratic era. If my boss could have tweeted instead, he probably would.
Roger Stanier just posted this memo from GGT 30 years ago on facebook – pic.twitter.com/v8oEL9wmq7
— dave trott (@davetrott) February 3, 2018
But there was something about memos.
They arrived when you didn’t expect them, and appeared where you couldn’t miss them; on your desk, right in front of you. They were accurate and well-presented (we had typists in those days, remember?). They were broadcast, disruptive, authoritative. They were not part of a conversation. But maybe the start of one.
Imagine the reactions at GGT when Dave’s memo landed with the creative team. Some of them were probably straight on the defensive: But that was brief/the client specifically said/we suggested other things…Some would have been: Bang on Dave, that’s exactly what I’ve been saying…..And almost everyone was inwardly thinking: Yep, I know he’s right, and I know I’ve been as much to blame as anyone…
But the point was, they all sat down and took notice. Partly because of the message, but also because of the medium. Of course back then, the idea of a memo was completely normal. These days it would be entirely unconventional.
*Maybe you haven’t read it, in which case you can do so here.
Categories: Fox musings