Don’t Fear The Future, Make It

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‘If you could ask one thing of everyone in this room to capitalise on what we’ve talked about today, what would it be?’

Anna Hickey, Chief Operating Officer at Wavemaker, ended the talk with this final ask of the audience and panelists alike. Its aim; to prompt everyone to take positive action to change the way our industry is perceived by the world. The pervading theme was to try and act on the moral and image-related challenges that weigh down the advertising industry, and these challenges were addressed without fear of the stigma that surrounds them.

The talk featured Ed Hughes, Chief Marketing Officer at Purple Bricks, who brought a startup’s perspective on the perception of the industry. Also there was Paul Hibbs, Director of Advertising and Media at Nationwide, who brought to light the issues with delineating between short and long term campaigns and how agencies and clients alike need to communicate from the outset. Neil Godber, Head of Planning at Wunderman Thompson, also featured and he voiced concern at the overly critical view of the public on the sector.

Why is there a pervading negativity around the industry?

The negativity comes from the inside and out. From the public’s perspective advertising execs are the least trustworthy profession after politicians and estate agents – only 16% of the population believe that you can trust an Ad exec.

The panelists were in agreement that a lot of this trust was unfounded.

Loud and Proud

Anna made a key point about agencies having a responsibility to be louder and prouder about the morally good work they do. Agency’s should act as ‘good public citizens’ themselves and be held accountable. Fortunately, the more accountable they are held the more positive public light will be shone on their work that benefits the public, it works both ways.

‘Together Against Hate Campaign’

This well-known campaign from Nationwide (in collaboration with Maltesers, Channel 4, Instagram and McCain) was frequently referenced as a prime example of brands putting sales second and public service first. In essence, its an instance of a long-term campaign that reaps its benefits from the public relating said brand to fixing a moral dilemma. Ed Hughes spoke with worry about the increasing attention CMO’s put on short-term campaigns that deliver quick success but forego long term brand building in favor of making a CMO look good.

The Age Old Problem

The biggest issue facing the industry is its vintage problem of always being the unwanted element on the screen. As a result, the quality of the content must always be as a high a standard as possible. Content is still king.

Outdated Models

The old model of a client creating a brief and then handing it over to an agency is not useless, but is outdated. Instead, Paul Hibbs advocated the idea that agency and client should come together before the brief is even formed and work on it together from the outset. Often this creates work before the brief is even finalised and promotes a more open and honest relationship.

Key Points to Takeaway

  • Agencies are proven to have a real impact on their client’s businesses, their own people and the wider industry. We need to be louder and prouder of this fact.
  • Let change be a permanent state of being – it’s about continuous improvement, not perpetual decline.
  • It’s all of our responsibility to push the industry forward and make our own future.

For more content like this, be sure to check out AWLearn, Advertising Week’s year-round, video-on-demand continuing education program, which combines the best moments and the brightest minds from the global stages of Advertising Week.

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