Marc’s Masterclass on Brand Statements

Marc is obsessed with Future Shock – it’s his Bible, he says. When I first learned this, I thought about how serendipitous that was, considering that Future Shock is the book I’ve currently been reading. 

In the introductory chapter, Alvin Toffler explains that if we were to condense the history of human existence into lifetimes with an average of about 60 years lived, we would have 800 leading up 20th Century. Of those 800 lifetimes, 650 have been spent in caves. Armed with the knowledge of this simple yet mind-blowing truth, I connected some dots.  

Generally, anthropologists estimate that the human brain has been more or less the same for about 30,000 years. With this, we can safely say that, in spite of significant cultural differences between lifetimes, human thought-processes – the mind’s ability to engrain desire, drive, attachment, creativity – have more or less remained identical. 

This knowledge served me very well for Marc’s masterclass on Brand Statements – ‘creativity is the expression of original ideas that provide value’. 30,000 years (roughly) where creativity as we understand it, is not only plausible, but proliferating at increasing speeds. 

Marc’s definition of creativity brought me back to Los Antiguos, in the Argentine Patagonia. It was March 2019 when I last visited. Burgundy landscapes surrounded by wonderful peaks, folding and cascading into each other, is how I would describe what I first saw upon arriving. Walking through the sun-burnt plains, you finally meet the star of the show. An enormous gorge on the mountain’s side stands before you, rupturing the otherwise smooth precipice. On the walls of the great cave, hundreds of handprints pressed with earthy hues of ochre and burgundy, form an awesome display. If you look close enough, you might even spot the hoof of a Guanaco (a close relative of the more widely known Llama). Hunting scenes of everyday life complete the final impression. The Cueva De Las Manos has existed for about 10,000 years, and is now the final relic to an old civilization – the long-lost people of Los Antiguos.  

Cueva de Las Manos, Los Antiguos, Argentina

Out of all the things to reflect on, you might ask: why a cave painting, that wasn’t even included in the class? It was the umbilical cord analogy that tied it all in for me. It’s not a unilateral system. The data flows both ways through a visceral and powerful bond, both sides working together as one. That’s how Marc says we should be treating the brand-audience relationship. 

I see this explicitly in the experience I had at the Cueva de Las Manos. The value of true creativity applied strategically, even when the initial purpose is lost through time, transcends generations. The cave painting’s message, as with all great works, is a clear one: we are here, and we are here in this grouping. However, it is in the visual language that the message appears so lucidly, in spite of its age (I like to think that an inspiring art director 10,000 years ago saw this as his opportunity to shine). 

10,000 years on, and with Marc’s help in decoding great messages and communicating complex ideas simply, that old cave looks as relevant and fresh as the best billboards today.


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