The key planning theme for 2013


Carlos Grande, the very impressive editor of Warc , has invited me to summarise my view of key planning trends for 2013.

I am of the view that there is only one way to do this, which is to consider the key trends affecting the UK consumer in 2013.  These, and these alone, are the ones that really matter.  The technical advances within our own market place and the vagaries of advertising politics are mere bagatelles in comparison.

In the real world, the world outside comfortable agency offices, there is one trend that is sweeping the nation.  One trend that is causing the foundations (and possibly the founders) of more than one institution to tremble. One trend that is unmissable. It is a flood of truth telling.

From the aftermath of the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Enquiry, to the revelations from the victims of Jimmy Saville, cover ups are crumbling.

The nation is hearing the sound of truth and it likes what it hears.  Why did Julia Gillard’s speech go viral earlier this month.  It is because in her rhetoric we hear a woman speaking from the gut, and from the heart.

So the Truth Agenda has arrived.  Why here and why now ?

Because social media has reached a tipping point of power and influence in the nation, that you ignore at your peril if you have anything, anything at all, to hide.

Not since the printing press allowed the English bible to be circulated to every church in the land with the consequence that Catholic priests as translators of the gospel began to lose their usp, or since the number of women emancipated through work in the first world war made electoral emancipation inevitable, has such a change affected the land.

The people cannot be silenced.  Their views and opinions are no longer curated and diminished by editorial.  The truth will out.

The consequences are clear for brands and advertising.  Brands must deliver on their promises whether it is to care about customer service or to do no evil.  Customer reviews are more crucial than ever, and with the advancing Google Glasses technology they will be visible on the high street not just on a smart phone.  The waste of money invested in advertising that paints a picture that the consumer knows to be fake will become more and more obvious.  And all of this will give planners a much faster understanding of what is working and what is not, and what to do about it.

In addition the workplace itself will evolve.  It will have to.  Where results are so transparent, then sycophancy and political decisions will become more transparent too.  We will need to find a way to work through disagreements over strategy and execution instead of, as now happens, sweeping them under the carpet.  Every planning agenda should lead with a question “How do we get closer to the truth in 2013, and how will this change what we do and how we do it?”



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