I came across this ‘pebble’ remote from Samsung the other day. It’s a lovely design piece, but it’s its utility that I really like. It was introduced because most people find the standard remote that comes with pretty much every new TV (or any other piece of technology for that matter) much too complex.
When you first buy the technology it’s great. Right there in your hand is a showcase of the world of possibility contained within your purchase. So much personalisation possible, so many features to explore, so much that will maximise the quality of your experience. But it doesn’t take long for this world of possibility to become a distraction. It’s actually an impediment to enjoyment – it makes the process of watching TV that much more complex than you want it to be. So invariably you end up using about three functions – on/off, volume and channel. Beyond that, you rely on the fact that Samsung know what they’re doing and that the picture will be great. It’s a very rare occasion on which you feel the need to explore the world of complexity contained within that remote. Hence the pebble remote is immensely satisfying. It does the basic things really well, doesn’t confuse and is nice to have around.
Which strikes me as being rather like the experience of dealing with an agency. In the pitch process we bring out the full remote – all the functions, the specialities, the proprietary tools, the algorithms, the experts with the minutely-specific tasks that sound almost as impressive as their deliciously-contrived titles suggest. And just as it’s the world of possibilities that often motivate people to buy TVs, so the world of possibilities will often help a client buy an agency.
But we need to understand when we need to deliver them the agency equivalent of the pebble remote – the core functions that get the job done in the most simple, effective and satisfying way.
I think as agencies we’re too inclined to want to cling to the complex remote. We want clients to admire our depth and our complexity, when what they want is the ease of a pebble remote that does the basic things really well, doesn’t confuse and is nice to have around. And if we’ve done our jobs properly, they can make this transition secure in the knowledge that all the rigour in the world sits behind it.