HAPPY ACCIDENTS – November 24, 2017

It’s a week to be thankful. For me, one of life’s little pleasures is a happy accident. As example, last week I discovered a sweet little film, “The Florida Project.”  Willem Dafoe impresses with an Oscar-worthy performance. Besides Dafoe, the film’s plot cloaks viewers like an emotional fogbank. Filmed documentary style, with a mostly unknown cast, director Sean Baker’s deliverable is defiantly independent. “If I had my way, shooting would be 70% structured, 30% unstructured, so we would have happy accidents a lot. It’s been harder and harder to do that and if I want to continue, I might have to drop my budgets and just tell people (investors) to go away.”
Marketers work incessantly to reach the “right person at the right place, at the right time,” implying the secret to ad success is a tightly orchestrated, immediate-gratification pitch. Google dominates advertising’s ecosystem by leveraging micro-moments, those “need to know” and “need to buy” consumer opportunities, mostly provided via mobile queries. Smart advertisers respond with timely offers, served on technology platforms via automated bid systems.
Movie studios, trying to reach consumers at the right time and place with historical research data, end up with formulaic Transformers 10. By contrast, “The Florida Project” is one big happy accident, gifting viewers with a more complex, and thought-provoking experience.

So what if effective media, whether movies or advertising, is not only tech-driven audience targeting, but also a bunch of happy accidents? Experiences, messaging, content – truly anything creative – meant to introduce a whole new idea? Even Artificial Intelligence can’t yet provide that.

Katherine Schafler, a psychotherapist, writer and speaker wrote a compelling essay this week in “Thrive Global” titled “How to Change Your Life in One Second Flat.” While the title evokes an immediate-gratification, micro-moment of stress-reduction advice, it was actually the opposite. Slow down, pay attention, enjoy the moment. “We blaze through darling moments every single day,” she writes. Why do people love dogs so much? Because they offer unstructured, unconditional joy.
Not every media effort necessitates blueprinting, orchestration, modeling, forecasting, immediate response, perpetual optimization. On this week of Thanksgiving, here’s to the non-micro moments. The moments of spontaneous laughter, of creative exploration, of mistakes that inspire invention. And of the mindset to fully, humanly, appreciate them.