He speaks the truth.


As I write this, I find myself strapped into the back of a wildly zigzagging taxi, fearing for my life.

Yet, instead of violently screaming, my mind chose to juxtapose all the moments that have led to this impending disaster with the state of marketing communications today.

I have a wife and three kids. I was facing what I was sure to be certain death. Yet, instead of my beautiful family flashing before my eyes, I thought of the resistance we as an industry have had to data, platforms, and technology.

Yup. I had a wife and three kids seems to be the more accurate way of describing my life after this article.

Anyway… why did this odd revelation present itself to me?


Just moments before, my taxi driver nearly collided with another car on the road.

Instead of checking if I’m alright, he immediately starts cursing and rudely gesturing at the driver in the other car.

He also turns to me and says “Uber drivers, think they own the road. F*** them. Always causing problems for taxis”.

This anger infused tone and mumbling lingered for the rest of the ride, turning what was originally an awesome start to the weekend into a sour ride home.

But it got me thinking.

The war between taxi companies and tech-fuelled private car services is a clear representation of one of my favourite quotes from the film Moneyball –

“Adapt or Die”.

The taxi drivers are so angry with the loss of, what essentially was, their monopoly on the world that they never bothered assessing what they could do to improve or adapt to the new world they were in. Instead they let their anger blind them into progressively doing a much worse job that they were to begin with.

Instead of blaming private car services, the opportunity for them would have been to up the game of their service, in Singapore — stop avoiding peak hour, and stop being selective over your routes.

All the passenger wants, like most clients, is to get to their destination, preferably unscathed, and within budget.

Similarly in the marketing, advertising, and media world, we have been set in our ways to create work that drives toward an objective. Some of the work is memorable, others mythical deserving of pencils and lions, and yet others still legendarily awful that they will be immortalised in memory as guidelines for things not to do.

I’ll never forget my taxi ride. Much like you’ll probably never forget that ad that made you cringe. You know the one.

The point I’m trying to make is:

1) If more data made available to you leads to better insights and ultimately a better piece of work, why fight it?

2) If where the work will be distributed requires a different type of execution because of consumer behaviour on those platforms, why ignore it?

3) If the introduction of technology turns a good idea into an amazing one, isn’t it worth adapting to the reality to create the best thing possible?

I’m not disillusioned that the industry is rapidly evolving and to be across all of it is insane, neither am I saying that we should become Jacks of all trades without a mastery in anything.

All I’m saying is that the moment we shut ourselves off from everything else that is happening around us, we become the unrelenting taxi driver yelling at a private car speeding by while the passenger sits strapped in horrified of the car crash that will inevitably happen because of your distraction.

Adapt or die. It’s up to us.