Archive for July, 2019

Disruption is not driven by tech. Disruption is driven by dissatisfied customers.

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

twNew technologies come and go, and always have done.  The ones that stick around and disrupt our businesses are the ones that consumers choose to adopt.  As Harvard Business School Professor Thales S.Teixeira writes: “The most common and pervasive pattern of disruption is driven by customers.”  When businesses focus on customer needs and wants they respond far more effectively, time and again, than when they only focus on technology.

So, for MediaCom’s second annual Transformation Week, back by popular demand, we had a firm focus on humans not only on tech,  a focus on putting people first for better results in fact.  The people buying our clients’ goods or services, and the people working for, and also leading, their businesses.

The week opened with new research from the IPA jointly with the FT who interviewed their readers worldwide to see how much they truly understand the important work of the marketing community.  Is there a disconnect with the executive boards in terms of appreciating and valuing the task of creating marketing effectiveness?  Should we, and can we, as a community that values marketing, disrupt their lack of insight and transform their understanding in order to ensure that those responsible for the overall health of business understand that marketing is an investment for the longterm? (Yes, we should).

The week’s sessions, created by MediaCom and by our brilliant partners across the industry, offered rich insight into every crucial aspect of transformation with workshops, presentations, some “rock-star” talent on show and fresh research.  Sessions included a discussion of sustainability, a new topic for Transformation Week 2019, but one which has hurtled to the forefront of consumer concerns.  ITV are took us into the heart of Love Island and commercial partnership, and Sky shared with us how they’ve harnessed transformation in measurement for AV.    Reach brought the Brexit Debate to Red Lion Square, with Britain Talks participants recreating the live debate across the nation.  (What happens when strangers meet and discuss politics ?  They certainly don’t agree, but they do find that they have more in common than they thought.)  Verizon brought alive the real business transformation that 5G is heralding.  Stylist showed how they are literally going from strength to strength with a new exercise studio venture.  They called too for a transformation in the depiction of a diverse set of women in advertising to match their editorial position.  Theobalds Road Consulting (MediaCom’s own consultancy start up), together with Code took participants through a fun and educational workshop on Voice, where Alexa herself participated.

There was much much more than this, including a consultation on the future of Out of Home and two takes on the enduring power of radio with Chris Evans and Dave Berry.

MediaCom Edinburgh held a Transformation session on purpose.

Data suggests that we’re all on a journey as far as benefitting from truly diverse teams throughout every level of management and colleagues.  An important question for me is Diversity 2.0, what needs to happen next? A “fishbowl” debate on this closed the sessions on Thursday pm.

New WPP research has defined the 7 levers of growth, and an expert panel discussed these and the typical barriers to business growth, how to build for innovation and how to overcome the typical traps along the way.  Although disruption is customer led, digital preparedness is crucial – how do you assess where you are on this spectrum?  MediaCom’s Theobalds Road Consultancy is at hand to offer help with defining new pathways to growth and delivering “people first” transformation.


Everyone seems to be raining on Cannes. Not me – an optimistic take on June 2019

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Cannes-2019-750x417pxLet’s be positive.

Conrad Hilton said: “Travel bridges cultures and promotes peace in the world”.  Some people are pointing to Cannes this year as a harbinger of doom.  Actually, it was the very opposite.

Whilst it would be oversimplistic to suggest that the ad festival promoted world peace, the general message of the week was more about solutions and realistic situational analysis than it was about problems and existential crisis for a change this year.

Yes, the IPA pointed out that there is a lack of correlation between effectiveness and creative winners.  Yet a strategy panel of CSOs that convened later in the week pointed out that this reflected the nature of the entrants to the Effectiveness Awards rather than a crisis of creativity.  And called for a stepchange in diversity of types of work for the 2020 awards.

The sessions at the Palais ranged far and wide as always with some of my colleagues reporting highlights including calls to dream big, flex business models to be more agile and where appropriate to personalise.  From AR to XR – extended reality enabled by 5G.  There’s much more action (not just talk) on diversity and inclusion.  Undoing stereotypes is long overdue, and the Unstereotype Alliance is now making good ground.  This gives many people reasons to be cheerful.  Berta de Pablos, Mars Wrigley CCO set a refreshing tone of honesty by presenting the results of the Geena Davies institute’s analysis of how their advertising executions were doing.  Better than most, but not enough.  This honesty under the spotlight is inspirational.  She said: “”The best ads take on the responsibility to accurately reflect society. We hope that by releasing some of our findings from the institute, we can encourage the larger industry to prioritise the equitable inclusion and representation of women.”

Back at MediaCom’s suite a session hosted by Matt Mee (Global CSO) was dedicated to optimism.  Matt asked CMOs Janelle Anderson of American Airlines and Kellyn Smith Kenny CMO of Hilton Hotels, if they felt optimistic about anything.  The answer was a resounding yes.  Kellyn, who cited Conrad Hilton’s purpose, said that his pioneering spirit was contagious.  Yes, the sector has been disrupted, but that disruption has inspired the incumbents to new heights.  Janelle pointed out that budget airlines have opened the habit of flying up to many more people, and made the point that positivity was crucial to a business where if anything out of the airline’s control goes wrong (like a bird strike, or the weather), their passengers love to blame them.  However, “if something goes wrong, and our people help through that, and make the customer feel good, then that’s a win for the brand.”

The panel agreed that the role of CMO is to be an engine for growth and to champion healthy brands.  Kellyn said she believed that there had been more innovation in marketing in the past 7 years than in the previous 200, and marketers had never before had better tools for mining insights from data.  When I asked them for tips for navigating all this change they advised: “Get a coalition by your side”.

In light of this optimism the alarming news from the IPA and FT that there’s a big disconnect between the FT’s c-suite readership and any real understanding of how marketing works must be seen as an opportunity for development and education.

Reasons to be cheerful this year at Cannes, even if the path ahead is still very steep and rocky it looks like some light is beginning to dawn.