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The iconic Hamlet ‘baldy man’ from CDP

I’ve worked in the industry for a fair few years now. Too many to really own up to, in fact. Especially as I’ve hit the big 4–0 in age, and the industry becomes even more perpetuated with youth before experience. (But that’s another post for another time!)

When you’ve spent a bunch of time in the industry you notice repeated behaviours and patterns emerge. Behaviours and patterns that the people espousing them think are new and unique, yet you’ve seen them time again.

One of those perpetual behaviours is people believing in “the death of advertising” — be it the term or the artform itself. …

I’m sick of reading the same lazy cliches when it comes to ‘millennials.’

So I thought I’d capture a few of the most common bullshit ‘insights’, and then offer an opinion on why they’re not a unique generation at all.

In fact, they’re kinda like lots of generations before them… no better, no worse.

So why the bullshit? It’s almost as we’re perpetuating the bullshit to suit our selves…

Clients believe it because agencies tell them and they want to mitigate risk to their bosses.

Agencies believe it because research companies tell them because they want to sell something,… anything… to the client (who is infatuated with millennials).

The annual WARC 100 report has recently been released, and as usual, it has some interesting findings in it. (The WARC 100 celebrates the most effective marketing that has delivered disproportionate impact for businesses.)

However, there was one finding that jumped out at me, and it opens up the debate again about the quality of marketing across Asia.

This is not a new debate, and opinions vary about whether Asian marketing is weaker than that elsewhere. Also, with that discussion comes a bunch of subjectivity.

However, this chart shows something more profound and important.

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This shows that across most regions, entries into the WARC 100 is approximately proportionate to the amount of adspend within that region. …

It’s a cliché thing to say but an essential part of being an effective advertising strategist is to get out of work mode, and get into real world mode.

There are numerous ways this can be achieved, but it’s essential to get outside the industry bubble. To remind us we’re not our audience. To remind us we’re people too. To remind us people aren’t ‘targets’, words aren’t ‘copy’ and to remind us not everyone wakes up and thinks about our clients brands every day.

I have a few ways to try and combat being sucked into the marketing vortex, as we all do. …

If you asked your clients to describe your agency in two words, what would they say?
(You’re probably hoping they’d say words like ‘smart’ ‘valuable’ or ‘partner’…)

Now, if you asked your clients to describe your agency in two words, comparative to the other agencies they work with, what do you think they’d say? (… and you need to be honest here… about all the partners they work with… how do you, honestly, stand apart?)

And this is something I think agencies forget.

Agencies spend a lot of time positioning themselves with their clients, but less time positioning themselves relative with other agencies, and being honest about it. (Which is crazy really when you think a big part of our job is positioning products and services relative to…

When was the last time you were nervous?
(I don’t mean nervous because your office is on the side of a mountain and you’re scared of heights…)

I mean the last time you were nervous… …
because you had a more significant project than ever before, or …
because you had to present in front of more people than ever before, or …
because you had to convince a super senior client to choose your agency, or …
because you had to do something you’d never done before.. or …
(You get the idea…)

If you’re looking at that list and thinking (“Thankfully that’s not me!”) then you need to reframe what nerves mean to you. …

We’re about 18 months into the most recent edition of Industry Doomsday — the never-ending series of events that will change the communications industry forever.

Remember the previous episodes?

“Tablets will kill the TV.”
“Facebook is killing advertising.”
“How will planners remain relevant?”

And the most recent episode: “Beware of (or embrace) the consultancies!” (Depending on which channel you watch.)

But there’s something amiss in the whole discussion, in my opinion. It focuses on how agencies get to the answer the client’s problem, and how efficient we can make the process from an agency viewpoint. …

There are two big trends happening in the marketing industry at the moment:

The creative industry is getting closer to the consulting industry;
Programmatic is becoming more of a focus for businesses.

There are a lot of benefits to the above, yet I fear for one fundamentally important part of marketing: Risk.

We’ve painted ourselves into a corner into thinking risk is a bad thing. We’ve framed risk as ‘something that can go disproportionately wrong’… when risk is also ‘something that can go disproportionately right’… And the two trends above are both designed to mitigate risk.

Yet I believe eradicating risk is the biggest risk the creative industry faces.

Numerous studies tell us humans are not algorithms that can be accurately predicted. We’re emotional and irrational.

That’s the beauty of life!

And if I asked you to remember your favourite ad would you tell me it was the programmatic, optimised banner you were served earlier? Or would you share the idea that resonated with you that didn’t pass its first round focus group, and demanded a client push it through the risk-mitigators? …

If people look up to you, you need to be a CFO.

Not Chief Financial Officer, and a role you should live in addition to your current role.

New Role: Chief Fulfilment Officer Ensuring your team are fulfilled in their roles and business direction will continue that trend. Fulfilment is personal: pride in the work, social good, a fair package. If you don’t keep people fulfilled, they’ll leave.

New Role: Chief Fortune Officer Ensuring the business is generating income and profit (and team fulfilment). Fortune is a balance — short term gains or long term stability? …

As an advertising strategist, I love to write. And I love to solve problems.

However, as we all know, sometimes even if we have the desire to create or solve problems, our brains do not fully comply. In fact, they can actively disobey.

We have all been there: inspired to create, yet…

— We procrastinate;
— We chat to colleagues instead;
— We tell ourselves we need a change of scenery;
— We tell ourselves we need a coffee before we begin;

That’s right; we create any other kinds of excuses… instead of getting on with the job at hand!

One of the behaviours I use to out-wit my disobeying brain is to have a wormhole album.

A wormhole album is one of those pieces of music that not only isolates you from distractions but envelops you and draws you into its world seamlessly. So much so, you are consumed by its frequencies — the frequencies that become at one with yours. …


Mark Hadfield

Regional Head of Planning (APAC) at Iris worldwide based in Singapore. My own views and no-one else's.

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