Welcome To Co.Create Nation
Once upon a time, entertainment and advertising were two separate lands. Each land was dynamic, and cool, in its own way, but their denizens rarely commingled. In yet another land, the geeks of technology toiled in isolation on tasks both obscure and unfriendly. And then the winds of innovation blew through. Everything changed.
Today, a new creative map is taking shape, as the barriers between these businesses fall away, spurred by a swarm of adventurers and explorers (a handful of whom are highlighted in our graphic, at right). For companies and consumers, actors and artists, marketers and musicians, there is no turning back. On the contrary, this is the wave of tomorrow.
The 2010s aren't the first time purveyors of technology, entertainment, and advertising have forged new ground. Back in the 1930s, they melded minds to make soap operas, a form that propelled the new medium of radio with sponsorship from some of the nation's most famous brands, like Procter & Gamble and Lever Brothers. That successful dynamic also led to the popularizing of television in the 1950s and established what we now think of as the traditional entertainment business model.
Now that model is being rocked by a new creative class armed with smaller, faster, cheaper technology and turn-on-a-dime maneuverability. The new creatives are frighteningly efficient and productive as hell. Their art might be sponsored, but that won't stop you from quoting, copying, and forwarding it to friends. They rely on YouTube accounts, social-media followers, and an almost punk-rock assault on the status quo. They glide between disciplines and negotiate ethical boundaries with ease. They're the ones at DreamWorks Animation pushing Intel for faster chips to process animated movies while urging Madison Avenue to deliver 3-D advertising. They enlist Vans or Old Spice to pay a premium for captivating or sidesplitting web videos, then spin their creations into a series for Bravo, Discovery, or FX. They're the reason Hollywood talent agents, New York publicists, and San Francisco startups are partnering to pitch branding campaigns with corporate giants.
The tribes on this new map reflect the flexibility and potential of the emerging Co.Create Nation. Artists find like-minded ambassadors in commerce to tap a massive new audience. Commerce discovers richness in authenticity and art.
You already know the viral ads, characters, and pop-culture landmarks of this new world, even if you don't know the people who made them. But this new continent is morphing quickly. That's why Fast Company is launching a website, Co.Create (fastcocreate.com), to chronicle the pioneers who are meshing tech, culture, and commerce in new ways. We'll provide a daily dig into this evolving creative landscape so that you—the reader, the creator, the consumer—can enjoy all the excitement, business potential, and flat-out fun the new creativity has to offer.
Art? Commerce? Ads? Who Cares!
A version of this article appeared in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.