“If everything seems under control, you’re probably not going fast enough.”
This is a famous quote from former F1 pilot Mario Andretti who became the world champion in 1978. The Italian-born American romanticized the feeling of being a little uncomfortable when driving at top speed. It’s those who dare that win the race in the end. In 2007, approximately thirty years after Mario’s championship title, I entered the job market and joined an advertising agency. Back then, this quote was also the industry’s unofficial mantra. Do more, do it faster, outpace the competition, feel a little uncomfortable with the speed of innovation. Rest assured, that’s how you win the game, buddy.
But it wasn’t just advertising that was significantly upping its tempo, the global economy went into warp speed as well. Brands needed to innovate quicker to maintain market share and defend themselves from disruptors. Music bands were obliged to launch more than one record every year to stay relevant. Even vloggers felt the pressure to feed their greedy internet audience new content every day. We live in exponential times and us humans are trying to run faster than we actually can. An unsettling reality. Truth is, we needed a crisis like this to confront ourselves with it. The “Big Pause” that’s happening right now, is forcing everyone to reflect on their rhythm.
Even some brave industry leaders are questioning the artificial structures we set up ourselves. Take Giorgio Armani for example, who wrote an open letter to renowned fashion magazine WWD. The Italian icon said this is a moment in time to rethink everything that has gone wrong in the industry. His narrative: slower fashion, timeless designs that last longer and putting a stop to overproduction. According to him, an intelligent slowdown is the only road that will finally bring value back to their work.
I’m pretty sure that in normal times, opinions like these would remain unheard or would be considered moralistic. Today, however, many of us are seriously reconsidering their rhythm. This is a unique opportunity for brands to realign and connect with this mindset, creating a more meaningful landscape in the future.