Life’s too short for S**tware, pitches are too short to f**k about

About 13 years ago, Marc Andreessen (software developer, investor, smart dude), coined the phrase “software is eating the world” and it’s been stuck in my head ever since.

It’s been worn as a point of pride by devs and VC firms alike. It’s been argued, contested, seen as horribly prophetic by some.

Alright. Writing about an award win (or any kind of triumph) is always kind of mortifying, but this was a really fun bit of work and hopefully by explaining how it came about we will SHAMELESSLY land other bits of work like it.

First, a little bit of context. Earnest just won Gold at the ANA ACE Awards for “Best Campaign that Never Ran”. It was for some work we did for a company I’m really fond of and think is doing legit innovative work. is an app development platform that lets users of all backgrounds (e.g. non-technical people, hi its me) make software from a smorgasbord of reusable components and templates. They work to build it for you, and you get guidance the whole way through. Basically, anyone can make an app with I think this is cool on many fronts. Like, I’m essentially an idiot but with it I could make a digital product. Very cool.

Next, why the pitch was fun. This is easy. We had no time and very limited resource (the pitch coincided with a really busy period) but it was too cool a brief to turn down. So three of us – a strategist, a writer and a designer – did the work in about three pretty breathless days (and nights tbh). I quite like chaos. I like a pinch. But mostly I really like getting stuff done. I like making work.

Sometimes time and space is absolutely necessary for killer creative strategy. A lot of stuff in B2B is complicated with potentially quite high barriers to understanding. Gene editing? Digital Twins? Probably going to have to take a minute TBH.

But sometimes time and space (n.b. Saying ‘time and space’ here is sounding way more sci-fi than intended) can get in the way of what you actually need to do.

You can burn weeks as a strategist looking for an angle based on some as yet undiscovered human truth or insight or kernel of wisdom. Trust me, I’ve done it enough. It’s easy to get stuck in the ‘smarts trap’. It’s easy to get all turned around by industry specific jargon or the need to show that you really get an industry/trend/whatever.

Sometimes the answer is just a bit….stupider?

We were talking about the brief and Marc Andreessen’s quote came up, pretty quickly followed by “well then why is so much software so shit?”

I’d wager that almost every single person who has to use a computer for a living (if you don’t, there are days I envy you with the fire of a thousand suns) has a laundry list of complaints about software.

My personal software bête noirs include:

MS teams: I don’t want to wait 9 minutes each time I have to make a phone call with my face

Google Workspace: If the 4th biggest company on the planet can’t be arsed to knit discreet
products together in a coherent way then I see no reason to be polite about it.

Basically all timesheet software: UX of a skip fire

And honestly life really is too short for this sh*t.

And that’s it. That’s the route. “Life’s too short for s**tware”

It’s not very complicated, or mature. It’s not based on some killer insight or understanding. It’s just an opinion, writ large and (hopefully) stuck on a billboard one day.

We kicked it about for a day, mapped it against (largely made up) marketing funnels and audience journeys, made sure no other brands were using it, tried to figure out to what extent we’d get away with picking a fight with brand names and whether PPC ads would support sort of swears (nope), and all the usual campaign hygiene stuff.

We also came up with another route for the pitch, but that had zero (0) poop emojis and no swearing and nor did it win any awards.

To attempt to tie this off on a more sensible note: there’s a reason for wanting to talk about this work. Winning awards is nice. Brief pat on the back, on with your day. But the real reason for taking a beat over this, is that this campaign and creative speaks – I think – to a deeply held Earnest conviction. Namely: there is so much undiscovered upside in B2B marketing.

There’s loads of room for great, combative creative. There’s a real need, and tonnes of upside, in brawling street level strategy turned around in days. There’s upside waiting to be found in media, UX and sales enablement. No matter how crowded or well established a sector, there’s always (always) room to cut through the s**t.