One word equity

I'm not sure if Saatchi and Saatchi co-founder Maurice Saatchi is familiar with the concept of the attention economy, but his op ed in Friday's Financial Times made the advertising icon sound as if he'd just been listening to attention economy expert Michael Goldhaber.

In the piece, entitled "The strange death of modern advertising," Saatchi composes an obituary for his own industry:

The funeral rites have been observed. The gravediggers have done their work. The mourners are assembled. Most of them are embarrassed to say they ever knew the deceased. "Advertising?" they say, "I'm not in that business."

Saatchi might have been reading Oxford university neuroscientist Susan Greenfield too. He tells us that the media world is now divided between digital natives and digital immigrants. The natives are all under 25 years old, he tells us. These natives are multi-taskers. They can simultaneously watch, play, interact, talk, listen and read. According to Saatchi, these digital natives suffer from an affliction called continuous partial attention (CPA):

The latest affliction, according to neuroscience - and this was the death knell - is that the digital native's brain is physically different as a result of the digital input it received growing up. It has rewired itself. It responds faster. It sifts out. It recalls less.

CPA is killing the advertising industry, Saatchi say. Thus his obituary. Not only is there more and more media information, but the digital native is less able to remember any of it. So the only way for a company to gain attention is to establish "public ownership of one word." Saatchi calls this one word equity.

One-word equity... Google owns "search", Apple owns "innovation", I own "seduction".

Welcome to the brave new world of collective attention deficit disorder. A place where nobody can remember anything except single words. And where brands fight over those words so that they can imprint themselves onto the shrivelled brains of consumers.

Seduction, seduction, seduction. That's mine. What's yours?