THE HEADLESS-CHICKEN MANIFESTO

 

 

In 1792, France was in the middle of a revolution.

The Austro-Prussian armies were defeating the French forces everywhere.

People were panicking, scared stiff that Paris might fall.

George Danton was a politician who didn’t do much but make speeches, so he did the only thing he knew how to do, he made a speech.

He didn’t have any definite advice, nothing practical, but in the spirit of ‘I must appear to be a leader’ he said:

“We ask that you join us in this sublime movement of the people. We ask that anyone who refuses to serve as his person, or to hand over his weapons, be punished with death. We ask that an instruction be given to the citizens to lead their movements. We ask that letters be sent to all departments to notify them of the decrees you have issued.”

If he’d stopped there, we wouldn’t remember Danton, that’s mainly just waffle because he liked the sound of his own voice.

But what he said next, the last line of his speech, has gone down in history:

“Il fait l’audace. Encore l’audace. Toujours l’audace.”

It’s even misquoted in the movie ‘Patton’ as being said by Frederick the Great, and translated as: “Be daring, Be more daring. Always be daring.”

No doubt it is a very rousing line, but it doesn’t offer any practical advice other than: “Do something exciting”, and it did get everyone wound up.

In fact, it got them so wound up 1,800 people were subsequently murdered in the September massacres.

You see it’s easy to sound inspirational when you’re not specific.

Unless you give people definite, practical goals all that rousing speech does is get them to run around like headless chickens.

There’s a lot of headless-chickens in our business because, right now, everyone wants an answer, any answer; take this from a Global Executive Creative Director:

“Time is the newest experience currency. People want to change the world one purchase at a time. Moving from transactions to lifestyles, leveraging brand partnerships to provide authenticity in new spaces. It’s no longer about running shoes, it’s wellness. It’s not just a burger, it’s a creative partnership with a top rap star.”

A creative partnership with a top rap star. Doesn’t sound very original, any other advice?

“Our skin hunger will cause many currently struggling industries, like travel and beauty products, to rebound with a vengeance. In the words of Little Finger, ‘chaos isn’t a pit, it’s a ladder’.

Chaos isn’t a pit, it’s a ladder.

Surely that’s inspiring somehow, but in case you’re still not clear on what’s wanted:

“There has always been left and right brain creatives, it is the war that has waged for aeons. Traditional creatives already DO aspects of experience, it is pairing this with system design thinkers to create something new. Framing the brand experience end to end IS the new way. The Big Idea + Design Thinking are giving birth to a bastard child called Experience.”

The Big Idea + Design Thinking are giving birth to a bastard child called Experience.

So there you have it: something, something, something and some exciting language.

Basically saying, we need to be daring – not sure how – but do it.

In other words: “Toujours l’audace.”

Incidentally, the dictionary defines audacity as: “a willingness to take risks; rude or disrespectful; impudent”.

So we’re not quite sure what we want, but it has to be a willingness to take risks; rude or disrespectful; impudent.

Okay, got it? Off you go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “THE HEADLESS-CHICKEN MANIFESTO”

  1. I cant remember how many fist pumping creative briefings Ive sat through.
    Years ago we tried to introduce The Old Man and the Sea award to an agency. It was to be awarded to the brief that promised the most but delivered the least.
    ( Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway is about an old fisherman who, way out to sea catches the biggest Marlin ever but during the row back to port it’s slowly bitten to bits by sharks and all he has left is bones. ) Oddly we found it was the briefs that asked for the least that got the best work out the door.

  2. All we can hope for is that evening, these people look at themselves in the mirror and admit that they might just be talking bollocks.

  3. After reviewing the performance of 41 former presidents, those with fearless dominance, which is a mixture of narcissism, glibness and guiltlessness, received the best evaluations of presidential leadership. If you’re the Global Executive Creative Director of a company, you’ll probably be expected to come off as risky, edgy and all the other sod-awful attitudes clients, employees or the industry demands. “Fake it till you make it” hasn’t helped either – Sadly my downfall in the ad industry came about in the 90’s when I dared to bring my authentic self into the room. Its only looking back on my younger self now that I realize I was a total dick. Maybe daring to be less authentic might have helped, maybe? 🙂

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