Instability and Decentralization: Strategists on the New Risks and Benefits of Marketing

Marketing, some would say, is in a period of transition characterized by change and uncertainty. Fortunately, the industry has trained a whole discipline of people to navigate uncertainty, deal with the unexpected, and prepare for the future: strategists. During a recent roundtable with strategy experts from The Drum Network, we couldn’t help but ask: what’s the one change on the horizon that marketers should be anticipating?

Matthias Gray, Chief Strategy Officer, Freedman International: systemic risk and empathy

We live in a time when there are a lot of systemic risks. It forces us to be in constant crisis mode to some degree, and it forces us to act differently. One thing that’s really important in all of this is empathy: being empathetic to the business leaders we work with; understand what these challenges mean to them and where they come from. And, on the other hand, what these great challenges mean for people. And then, in the middle, put that together as a strategy.

David Rogerson, Director of Experience Design (Strategy and Product), Foolproof: instability

For me, it’s a matter of instability. Faced with global changes, how to adapt to instability? How do you strategize in a world where the data, information and knowledge we have about the past might not be predictive or indicative of a future? Learning how to do this better is one of our great challenges.

Niki McMorrough, Commercial Director, Relevance: decentralization

Especially in luxury, decentralization, which is about web3, is the next big thing that’s going to happen. Brands that used to shout their message to large groups of people now need to find a way to get large groups of people to shout about their brand. by them selves. New platforms and a new way of communicating are already in place. It’s gonna be a big one.

Martyn Clarkson, Global Head of Strategy, Jack Morton Worldwide: fluidity

The one big thing strategists should really focus on in the coming period is the fluidity of innovation. With the changes we’ve seen – geopolitics, social, pandemics, sustainability, web3 – so many things are going to cause so much change so quickly.

If we’re going to maintain, as an industry, a sense of leadership, we have to be very quick and very decisive with a lot of moving parts. Having an agile and fluid approach to strategy (which allows us to rebalance what we do to get the best opportunities for the people we work with) will begin to separate those who succeed in the period ahead.

Melanie Hyde, Chief Strategy Officer, Adapt Worldwide: artificial intelligence and automation

When it comes to automating artificial intelligence (AI) and automating insights that we gather from all the different data points that we have as marketers, I think as strategists, we need to think of other ways to bring it all together.

How can we think about innovation and how can we use this innovation to collaborate between the different teams that we have between the client and the agency? It’s about bringing together all the different data points that we have as a collaborative team.

Rachel Hatton, Chief Strategy Officer, Oliver: sustainability

Sustainability is something we will have to deal with very soon. We all know we need to race to net zero and we need to halve our emissions over the next eight years. I heard someone say the other day (I think it might have been Stephen Woodford) that every day we do nothing in the sustainability agenda is a day we’ve wasted.

Sustainability raises existential questions about who we are as a marketing community. But we need to think about how we can perhaps use our talents to think about how to promote a more circular economy, more sustainable behaviors and the challenge facing the planet: staying within 1.5 degrees. [warming] target. Otherwise, everything else is a bit debatable.

Adrian Langford, Director of Strategy and Planning, Jaywing: back to basics?

We now have a better canon of marketing knowledge. Technology has been fantastic in helping to share, spread and understand this with new tools and data. Recently, we’ve seen a whole body of neuroscience working around communications and branding, and the work of brilliant people, including Paul Feldwick.

This work has raised huge questions about whether we need to go back to the fundamentals of long, long ago, since the dawn of marketing about what led to success. As these ideas are embraced and have had incredibly positive responses, we may see a slight backlash towards this type of thinking.

Erica Wong, Senior Brand Consultant, Radley Yeldar: burst the filter bubble

For me, the most pressing priority is to make sure we get out of this silo so that we don’t continue to be so focused on what’s in front of us that we can’t see what’s coming. This ties into trying to create more sustainable practices in our work, as well as more inclusive thinking and marketing that will reach more audiences.

We need to be very aware of the voices and minds we rely on and highlight, otherwise we can never achieve the most innovative or inclusive type of work.

Sarah Fritz, Senior Digital Strategist, Momentum Worldwide: talents and diversity

Agencies need to review their approach to diversity, equity and inclusion and should really try to embed it more into the way they create strategies, engage with clients, develop frameworks and partner with different talents.

At McCann, the “6 Cs” framework helps us synthesize ideas and uncover the truth for certain projects. One of our main pillars is “mindful inclusion”, which helps us approach campaigns holistically and think about how we can reach new audiences that have been overlooked. It will become more and more important. The talent pool is a huge issue and if we want to attract talent from diverse backgrounds and work with clients with increasingly high expectations for agencies, that will soon be non-negotiable.

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