Mark Pollard is currently Lead Digital Strategist at Leo Burnett and has worked across a stack of great campaigns, including The Name it Burger for McDonalds.
On top of this he is a great guy and thinker. He also introduced me to some fantastic music in the early 90’s through his magazine, Stealth.
Here are his thoughts …
1. Gen X digitises or retires
I still find it amazing how many Gen X-ers in critical leadership roles in businesses everywhere don’t get, care about or use digital media. How can they make informed decisions without dirtying their hands and spending time with it? Calling people who use Whirpool “propellerheads” – shame on you! Internal training will not fix this. Career instability will. Use it or disappear.
2. Media companies merge marketing departments
Many media companies still have 2 marketing departments: one takes care of the website (it should be ‘digital’ but few have ventured boldly into the space despite resources and opportunity), the other takes care of the print, TV or radio version. These departments with conflicting interests will be merged around the country in the next 6 months. It will be interesting to see which skillsets take the ascendancy.
3. The metrics struggle continues
What gets measured gets done. We all know this but the ostensible complexity of the ‘new world’ challenges companies to find new things of importance to measure in new ways. This is exciting. A new breed of analysts will emerge and cease being backroom players in their organisations. The challenge will be for heritage companies with old ways of doing things to embrace new measurement models that help inform better decisions and don’t just create additional noise.
4. Content ideas over ad ideas
‘Content’ is misunderstood by many. The Adidas house party campaign (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT3Jj9OGMA0) is content as much as the Huggies online forum (www.huggies.com.au) is. I feel that there is fear in creative agencies that any mention of content leads to blogs, forums, boring stuff – rather than reinventing what content could be about for brands.
5. Silver bullets continue elusiveness
Either through a lack of resources, comprehension or interest, many people continue to search for silver bullets to solve marketing problems – from TV, email, killer apps, portal websites, ‘viral campaigns’, mobile to social media. Businesses need to commit to ongoing engagement with their customers – not one-off campaigns. Campaigns still have a role but not in isolation. Oh, make better products and improve the customer experience – two nearly-silver bullets right there.
6. C-Level management cleanout
In businesses all over the world, there is a generation of leadership that’s spent too much time playing golf and sailing yachts. Obama, while a symbol of this generational change, will simply be the first of a new generation of leaders in all areas of life that thrive on big ideas and use collaboration not as a patronising sedative but as a way to generate real results and change. Wikinomics will rule.
7. Smarts over job titles
Think of all the smart people you know. Then think about their job titles. Chances are they offer more to the business they’re in than their job title stipulates. You can call them T people (http://www.davidarmano.com/thought.html) or whatever you like. They will make job titles redundant and find businesses to contribute to that don’t value empire-building, silos or restrictions. Keep them next year if you have them.
8. Digital grows up
More and more people with real digital experience and skills will be ushered into leadership roles in 2009. The challenge for businesses will be finding people with the right balance of skills and leadership ability. The agency world has not been very good at developing leaders internally. Gen Y will force this to change… or they will keep leaving your workplaces.
9. Recession makes people happier
2008 and 2009 will be a time for a lot of reflection. Have we become too greedy? Have we allowed our egos to take the driver’s seat? Is this sort of life and society what I want for the rest of my life? We’ll all recalibrate – some people will disappear into South America for the year, others will study, many will consider finally committing to that idea, that dream they’ve been putting off for so long. We’ve all longed for simpler, more fulfilling times for years – maybe 2009 is the year.
Liam says: On agencies developing leadership. Interesting perspective. I think I speak for most non Gen Y managers when I say this recession means we will no longer care when Gen Y employees leave.
Actually that is not true, we will care, it will be the type of caring that carries a broad smile.
Those Gen Y who think changing jobs every 18 months is about reflecting their true value may embrace a new philosophy as they compete with 20 or 40 other Gen Y candidates for scarce roles in 2009.