The future of advertising? Goodbye and don’t look back!
Amid its 20th anniversary celebrations, Fast Company magazine organized its first Innovation Festival from 9 to 13 November in New York. A festival of innovation in business is a logical enterprise for a magazine that is published with the slogan “business + innovation” and is a child, and chronicler, of the internet revolution. The festival itself was organized completely differently from any other business conference. In addition to panel discussions held at two locations, festival participants – of which there were over two thousand – were able to visit innovative companies and talk to their entrepreneurs, founders and heads. But that was not all! As part of the festival, you also had the chance to visit the Museum of Modern Art – the legendary MoMA – and the Natural History Museum, with special guided “out of hours” tours; see a fashion show by Eileen Fisher; attend live music at Spotify and enjoy tasting the exquisite delights at the phenomenal Eataly multi store.
All in all, during those five days, at a hundred different events spread throughout the city, you could hear thoughts about innovation and business from the business innovators themselves. Among the business people you would expect to see there, there were also young startuppers who wanted to test their ideas, as well as Hollywood stars, who are increasingly becoming business people, and entrepreneurs, who are increasingly becoming media stars, designers and DJs, architects and developers. It was absolutely clear that, even in the best case scenario, any one person could see only a small part of such an extensive program. A system was therefore established so that each participant, through a special app (how else?), could arrange for themselves where to go and what to attend and thus organize their own personalized program. This also involved some luck, and above all speed, because for the majority of events the number of seats was limited and the app operated on a first come – first served basis. Good planning was required in order to avoid booking parallel events organized in different parts of the city (which is not exactly what you would call small), so you had to calculate the time you would need to get from one event to another. Truth be told, the application did help, with its warnings of what was and was not possible.
So I arranged for myself a very intensive five-day program, from morning to evening, fully aware that I would experience only a slice of the overall atmosphere. But even the fraction I managed to see and experience, and the people I met and the conversations I had, are impossible to convey and recount in a letter such as this. The intensity of the events during those five days was such that even I needed notes and photos on my phone in order to recall the events I attended and remember what they were like. That is why, shortly after my return, I admit that I found my friends’ queries of “How was it?” very tiresome. I really didn’t know what to say. In fact, I didn’t know where to start, so I replied with the moronic answer: “It was good.”
I even regretted promising to write this “Letter from New York” immediately on my return. I’m not excusing myself, but I figured out that, in fact, the real question is not: “What happened there?” In order to get an idea of that you can simply visit www.innovationfestival.fastcompany.com and I really recommend it. You’ll see who was there, what the topics were and what places you could visit. The point is actually – what kind of impression does a person have after such an event? What’s the “impact of the week”? And that wasn’t immediately clear to me.
Clearly, all that I saw and experienced there required some time to settle. Finally it hit me: it was a visit to a future world that is already here. That’s why there are so many impressions that you can’t even begin to describe or define, or even remember, because you absorbed everything there both on the conscious and the unconscious level. So in the end, it all comes down to the impression that you have visited a “museum of the future”.
So here are some images from that future that is already here. It’s rather a jumble composed of what I heard from others as well as my own comments, and for the sake of at least some kind of clarity, they are divided into topics.
The future of “social media”. There is none, because, if every individual is a medium, then the media is by definition “social”, otherwise it’s not media. And if everything is “social media” then it can’t exist as a separate category. Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and owner of Vayner Media, goes a step further, claiming that “social media” is just a term we use today to describe the current stage in the development of the internet, and that in a couple of years we will no longer use it as a term. There are also those who use the term “sobile” (social + mobile), but this is a somewhat unnecessary term because, you’ll agree, it’s true even now that if something isn’t “mobile”, it’s not media.
The future of online business. Online business is a thing of the past. As with the “social media” phenomenon, if it’s not “online”, it’s not “business”. This trend is not primarily defined by traditional companies that are transferring to online platforms, because that has already happened and is nothing new. The trend is now pushed further by companies that were originally established as online and then spread their business to the physical world – not as traditional stores or outlets, although at first glance they appear as such, but as additional points of contact between the customer and the products already familiar to them from the online world. For the customer this is not just an added benefit, it enriches their experience with the brand, and it promotes their loyalty. The goal is to have a unique experience in engagement with the brand no matter where the interaction occurs, so that the transaction of purchasing a product is not just a technical task, but is also a part of the emotion that the buyer has towards a brand. This is accomplished by smaller, younger companies such as Birchbox and Warby Parker, but also by those that are larger and more traditional, such as Apple. According to Apple’sAngela Ahrendts (she is former CEO of Burberry), Apple is integrating its online platforms and its stores so that in both worlds they will offer the same service and experience. After all, her official title at Apple best defines this general trend. She is Senior Vice President, Retail and Online Stores.
The future of the market. The integration of online and offline business also defines the future of the market. The goal of market communication is no longer to bring information to the largest possible audience in order to turn some of them into customers, but to create the market by attracting customers with the authority you establish on a certain subject. This is the point at which content becomes a key tool for communication. Although the word content is used by almost everyone in communication industry, only a few yet know how to productively use it in creating and nurturing a market. The aim of so-called marketing is no longer to sell a product that you have, but to offer a product that people need. In order to find out what that product is, you have to talk with potential buyers, and for people to engage in a dialogue with you, you have to be authentic in what you are doing. Authenticity is a prerequisite for gaining trust, and trust-building takes time. That’s why all of this is easier said than done.
The future of the brand. The future is in the personal brand. It is a logical consequence of the change in the primary goal of market communications. If it’s no longer about a product, but about creating one’s own market through establishing a dialogue, then the authority of the one who starts and moderates the dialogue is a key factor for success. This is evident from the ever more frequent examples of how famous people not only start their own independent businesses, but how these become their primary career. One example is Gwyneth Paltrow’s company Goop, and Jessica Alba’s Honest, and so on. At the same time, entrepreneurs and business owners, with their public ‘performances’, look more and more like Hollywood stars, and less like classic business people as we imagined them until yesterday. Steve Jobs was the forerunner of this trend, which is now becoming the new normal. The line between celebrity and authority is still blurred, but this is a sort of transitional period and is actually evidence of this trend change. A typical example of this trend today is the aforementioned Gary Vaynerchuk, and one of the better definitions of this trend was given by Oprah Winfrey who said: “My heart is my brand!”
The future of work. Multi-jobs. The millennium generation does not want to be buried in a single job. New generations to come – already called slash or hashtag generations – will want that even less. By the year 2020, 40% of the workforce will be employed part time. This also affects the format of the workplace and the space and culture of companies. The co-working trend that began as an opportunity for young entrepreneurs and start-up companies to begin their businesses by renting a desk, rather than an entire office space, is now becoming an increasingly common way of organizing the workplace, even for established companies. Cooperation, transparency and the atmosphere of a commune are becoming an essential part of the culture of the new age company. Missions and visions framed on the walls are becoming a thing of the past. Therefore, in the selection of personnel, personal character, rather than formal education, is becoming an increasingly important factor. HR ceases to be classifying people into categories, filling out test sheets and forms and tracking their career ascent. Now you have to know everything about your employee, because that is the only way to create a functional, yet flexible, model of joint teamwork. The role of the leader is to inspire people to realize their dreams and ambitions, rather than to motivate them. Motivation must exist even before a person comes to work.
The future of advertising. Goodbye and don’t look back. Technology has transformed communication into a state of constant exposure and interruption. Marketing is either “real-time marketing” or it isn’t marketing at all. That is why advertising is becoming increasingly absurd. Advertising is a term that will soon be found only in the dictionaries of old words and phrases. Traditional advertising agencies have long been practically a part of the marketing-media complex, and they generally just manage clients’ budgets. Their ability to do more than that is constantly shrinking. I was at the global headquarters of a large agency, and on the floor, next to the reception, were scattered Cannes Lions of all shades, as if they were at a kind of garage sale. I listened to what the two big shots on the panel had to say; it sounded good, but I really can’t remember anything, nor do I have anything written in my notes. Probably because I lost those particular notes. At least the champagne at the cocktail party after the panel was superb. Hope is inspired by agencies that dare to engage in their own creative destruction, and to become, in the words of David Droga, “a safe place for dangerous ideas”, as well as by those who believe that an average idea is more expensive than a great idea. To those I wish all the best.
The future of the future. We all know that the pace of change that we are witnessing is such that these changes can scarcely be adapted to, let alone understood. That’s why we can’t predict the future, despite the charlatans who profess to prophesize. But the fact that we can’t predict the future doesn’t mean that we can’t be prepared for it. One of the most striking impressions that I carry from the festival is the presentation of the initiative of the New York city authorities, who have formed a public-private partnership with the private sector, in which each side will invest 40 million dollars so that in the next ten years 1.1 million students can acquire the basic skills of computer coding, because they have concluded that having basic computer knowledge now falls into the category of elementary literacy, along with reading and writing.
After all, is it not much better to build the future, rather than to predict it?
Source: Media Marketing