"Can't anybody here play this game?" asked an exasperated Casey Stengel to his New York Mets in their inaugural 1962 season, after the epically inept franchise had lost yet another of what would eventually total 120 baseball games.
Too often in the past few years, we could just as easily have substituted "advertising" for "this game." You don't adapt to a new world overnight, just like a new baseball club isn't going to win at the beginning.
We've certainly paid our dues as an industry lately, as we've struggled to make sense of this bewildering new world in which we do business. Just about daily, it seems, something new has taken a baseball bat to the assumptions, traditions and tools with which we make, distribute and measure communications of all kinds. It's almost as if we're starting over—all the time.
But it's wise to remember that only seven years after Casey's lament, the New York Mets won the World Series. And as 2010 has progressed, we've witnessed some powerful, even inspiring initiatives.
This month, for example, marks the ninth straight month since its launch that Bing.com has increased its market share, according to comScore. Sure, it's still far behind Google. But the point is, Microsoft has proven that what everyone said couldn't be done, can—and is—being done.
But the most intriguing move of 2010 to date may be the ascension of Mediabrands' chieftain Nick Brien to head McCann Worldgroup. This is an idea whose time was long overdue.
Over and over again in our industry, we've seen that the key to success today is assembling a team of specialists who work in concert toward a common goal. As Casey once observed, "It's easy to get the players; it's getting them to play together that's the tough part."
That's what the 4A's conference was all about earlier this month. That's increasingly how the large national and global advertisers are structured. It's increasingly what they ask of their communications partners. And it's no accident that these team-ups are almost always led by the media agency.
If the marketing holding company heads are as smart as I think they are, it may not be long before Brien has his company at the top. And that would be only one of the growing list of 2010 initiatives that make me optimistic for our future.
As Casey Stengel once said, "It's wonderful to meet so many friends that I didn't used to like."
Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at email@example.com
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