In 2002 I put together a class at The University of Texas called Agents of Social Change. I was inspired by a chapter in Warren Berger's Advertising Today (still such a great book to read). It talked of advertising pushing boundaries and solving. Something told me then that we were on to something beyond the product, beyond the idea of creating another message. But I'm slow.
It hit me again at SXSW in 2009. I was listening to Alex Bogusky talk about his Bicycle venture. He was solving a problem using those bright amazing skills. Love Bogusky or hate him, the guy reimagines everytime he jumps into something new. Someone in the audience asked what gave an advertising dude the gumption to solve bike and transportation issues. A dot of silence and then a manifesto: creative people have the absolute responsibility to stick their nose in everything, find a way, solve problems.
And so we're here. I'm teaching a new course, Communciating Sustainability. I've been trying hard to make it fit academic expectations and review, list, analyze, when I realized what we should be doing is accepting a challenge and sticking our nose in stuff. Finding a way! Solving. Last week we reinvented the course.
This week we had Edward Boches in, a true problem solver and Chief Innovation Officer at Mullen and a Pied Piper thru hus blog and twitter. His Innovation Brief to our students energized everyone. We are solving. That's been the case for the past couple of years but I think it sunk in now. We're changing the way an advertising program acts. We're building the stuff that solves problems, making things worthy of messages.