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07/25/2011 Who Sets Your Bar?

I just watched the documentary “Fire and Ice” on HBO’s amazing iPad app HBO Go. I’ll save reviewing that app for a later blog post. The documentary tracked the great tennis rivalry between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. What struck me most was the effect that Borg leaving tennis had on McEnroe. 

Yes, McEnroe continued to win, winning grand slams and retaining his number one spot after Borg retired. But that retirement also removed one of McEnroe’s greatest motivators: to play (and beat) the best. Without Borg to set the bar, McEnroe became more enraged and ultimately lost interest. 

In your business (and especially in the digital marketing business), who sets the bar for you? Which people or groups perform at such a high level that they motivate you to push yourself to a higher plane? Can you find inspiration through others’ work and success to make yourself work harder and more creatively? 

I’m asking the question after reading a number of comments by creatives on the lack of break through ideas, especially on the digital side. In the past we looked to CPB and the Barbarian Group, among others, to Wow us. Sites like the FWA and even the Macromedia Site of the Day used to inspire digital creative to push the work at every level. 

A friend of mine recently worked on a site that won the FWA award, and she remarked that she wished she had won it three years ago when it still meant something.

The examples these days seem to register a much smaller blip. Yes we’re not building as many intricate Flash sites with expectations of lots of interaction and time spent online. We know better now. We look at socially integrated campaigns that seem to have much more modest goals (perhaps even attainable ones). We’re looking to do more enabling of commerce or connections. That probably has greater value to customers but it’s not as sexy as Subservient Chicken or Come Clean.  

One example recently, which I noticed courtesy of Adam Cohen, was work for Tesco Homeplus. It sprang from an insight that people were just too darn busy in South Korea to go shopping. However, they all had mobile phones and lots of them commuted via subway. So they set up a virtual storefront in the subway, where people could shop through a mobile phone. Tesco then delivered the groceries to peoples’ homes.


How about that for a smart, digital and practical solution?

Like John McEnroe, I need my digital Bjorn Borgs. Who sets the bar for you to make you want to be the best? 



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