"What do you reckon is the most successful medium of the last twenty years? Magazines have had a good run, newsagents seem to be loaded down with more and nichier titles. TV's undoubtedly having a bit of a golden age, creatively if not commercially, and the internet seems to be proving quite popular with the young people. But I think the winner has to be games (video games, computer games, whatever you want to call them) if only because they've come from nowhere and created a massive industry in an incredibly short space of time. And think about their successes. They make us buy really quite expensive boxes to put in our homes, or carry around with us, which we have to upgrade surprisingly frequently. We have to shell out small fortunes for games, which also come around again with alarming frequency. And sometimes we have to subscribe to the game as well as pay for it. It's like they've taken a bit of the revenue model from every other medium ever invented. And they get away with it because they've created something transfixing and hypnotic. I suspect there's much the advertising and media business can learn from the games industry, not least because they know how to create something people want to spend time with, playing, interacting, hanging-out, learning. And we have to learn that or die, because we all know how expensive interruption is getting.
The best thing we could learn is how to be mysterious and get people into a flow-state; that almost hypnotic feeling you get into as you're drawn through each new gaming puzzle and challenge. We couldn't do flow if ours lives depended on it, we blurt everything out in thirty-seconds and keep repeating it until they submit. And in order to ensure we're delivering the right message we've made a fetish of clarity, so we can't do mystery either. Most ads are as clear as highly-polished glass, and about as interesting. It's like every ad, yeah, has that irritating youth habit, yeah, of asking for conformation that you've, yeah, understood, every few seconds, yaknowwhatImean? That, for me, is part of the genius behind the famously unclear Cadbury's Gorilla ad; it doesn't join all the dots, it gets you thinking, it's a mouse-trap that's left some room for the mouse. (It gets me wondering why they could get such a convincing gorilla to do such unconvincing drumming.) We strive for clarity in a telegram, but we should look for involvement and engagement with an ad, and the things that engage us are often complex and puzzling. No-one ever came out of a cinema saying, I really liked that, it was really clear."