Feb 23

Can Analog Thinking Shake Up Our Digital World?


Meeting - Flip Chart

Old methods of thinking might assist new marketing efforts.

Is there room for analog thinking and production in an increasingly digital world? Could marketing agencies benefit from using old-school methods to produce cutting-edge promotional concepts?

I’m not particularly referring to creating traditional advertising, like print ads or radio. I’m thinking more along the line of incorporating old methods of thinking and creating, especially when technology is available to bypass or shortcut the creative process.

If you watch this year’s Super Bowl, you undoubtedly saw a RAM truck commercial. You know the one. The commercial featured a voiceover of legendary commentator Paul Harvey from a speech he presented in 1978. The power of the copy came primarily because of the creative process used to write the speech. Harvey didn’t create the speech in the way commercials are presently created and written. Harvey being an old-school journalist wrote that speech in long-hand or typed the speech on a typewriter. This speech most likely included many drafts and rewrites on the way to the final version. On top of all that, Harvey had to ensure that the cadence and delivery of the speech would capture the attention of a live audience. Just think if today’s copywriters took this same approach to anthem brand TV spots – would these TV spots be equally compelling and attention-grabbing?

Creative work habits are usually specific to the person. In the past I did write copy in a notebook. However I do not compose copy using a notebook any longer – if I am able to do so. I admit I do use a college-ruled spiral notebook to take meeting notes or jot down a client’s copy-points. The use of a notebook is only brought into play if I plan on typing the notes in the future – which usually is the case.  If I have druthers my creative process goes directly to my best digital friend – Microsoft Word on my laptop. What can I say? I have adapted my creative process to the digital world.

Even though our world is digitally-oriented, I’m not surprised to find that advertising and design teachers and instructors strongly encourage students to create the initial versions of logos and layouts by hand. At the same time, copywriting instructors don’t push the importance of writing copy by hand with the same emphasis. The time crunch that seems to hit all of us these days simply makes it easier to go on the computer and type or experiment with layouts until the elements come together.

We are all guilty of taking digitally-enabled shortcuts whenever we are able. Consider the following scenario. Think about elements like stock photography, voiceover listings, or any element that involves a search query. Particular results always rise to the top, and depending on our patience, we may never see the best options – simply the most convenient.

Editing and revising concepts also are affected by the digital thought process. How many of us have been in brainstorming sessions where the goal was to fill the giant white board on the wall with creative ideas? Yet who held the power over which ideas were pursued? Did you ever think the power came down to the person transcribing and typing all those great ideas for the email conference report?

The fact of the matter is we simply don’t do business in analog form anymore. Client decisions get made remotely, and sometimes on the basis of a PDF document in a hastily-made PowerPoint presentation or compressed QuickTime video.

We are all so dependent on technology. What would happen if the staff of your company weren’t able to access a computer, tablet, or phone for 24 hours? That thought is crazy, right? Imagine if you had to think out loud, write in long-hand, or design on paper? People did have to do that in the past you know. Perhaps we’d be more thorough in design, and the ideas might be more fully formed before we rush to get projects to completion – simply to move onto the next project. Elements of copy and design may be more carefully chosen if the analog route was taken up in the early stages of a project.

Analog is the exception to the rule these days. In Seattle for example, there’s a renewed interest in vinyl records, letterpress printing, and hand-made items in general. To be fair it’s difficult to make a living off such items.

I have had many musicians I know say that there’s a certain organic quality to analog recordings which improve the final product. Some of these musician friends of mine have gone so far as to say that they feel music produced and recorded using analog equipment has a far richer, fuller, and natural sound than the same music recorded through digital equipment. The technology, regardless of how sophisticated, can be an incredible tool. However music is something we have to feel. In some cases technology may make the end product sterile.

The sterile nature of digital tools might be true for marketing and advertising as well. Perhaps a hybrid method would be the better alternative. Truth be told some of my best ideas come when I’m falling asleep, just waking up, or driving in the car. Now if some real genius could come up with a way to take thoughts from your brain and place the thoughts on a giant whiteboard. Granted there would have to be some sort of filter engaged for some particular reasons – if you know what I mean.

That’d be the best of both the digital and analog worlds.


Provide B2B and B2C marketing and copy-writing consulting services. • Rewrote all content for Innovative Dream Builders, Inc. website. • Rewrote client-selected content for 21st Century Goods LLC website. • Over 3 month period my blog experienced a 56% increase in visitors. • Rewrote and edited all content for Orion Home Improvements LLC website. • Composed and edited solicitation letters for Graham and Graham LLC.

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