David Bell, Co-Chairman of the Interpublic Group, was in Bangalore on January 31, where he delivered the MAA Foundation’s Ayaz Peerbhoy Memorial Lecture. Speaking on ‘Marketing in the New Realities’, or what he preferred to call ‘Marketing in the Time of Chaos’, Bell urged marketers and advertisers to create a change culture, an accountability culture, allow the consumer to define the process, make the planning table ‘bigger’, weave in the element of surprise, and build brand platforms instead of mere campaigns.
Urging participants to do away with the Silos culture, Bell said, “Marketing today demands the elimination of discipline silos, it demands holistic planning up front, and it demands having a representative from each discipline and new technologies at the planning table from the beginning with equal voices.”
He explained this, giving an example of one of the Interpublic Group companies, which had created a new purpose built team structure of an account directory, a universal planner, media planner, data analyst, art director, copy writer, interaction designer and tech lead, in place of a traditional team structure of account director, account planner, art director, copy writer.
He contended that the planning table must change in order to leverage the new realities. Among the new realities listed by the Interpublic chief was a digital strategy. Without a digital strategy, he stressed, there was no strategy.
“I’d even go so far as to say that without a strategy to leverage, Yahoo, Google and now MSN, there is no strategy. Search is the starting point, but as those portals and their peers evolve into full-fledged media networks, using rich content certainly will go from afterthought status to first thought imperative. Yes, brands are currently still being built or turned around with traditional strategies, but you know where the focus will be is when brands can also be launched, nurtured and built, using only digital platforms,” explained Bell.
Earlier in his talk, the head honcho underlined the emergence of a customer-managed market, where the ‘atomized individual’ could and would choose how they engaged with the marketer. With technology at their disposal, customers were aggressively adopting it, he added.
“These new technologies are empowering old tendencies. People have always avoided advertising and have been cynical of sales pitches. Now we have handed them the means to deal with their frustrations,” said Bell.
Among others, he cited the emergence of a ‘Consideration economy’, and the fragmentation of media, as significant changes in the marketing landscape.
“The power to connect, to speak to one person in a convincing, meaningful way, that’s the magic. Bollywood does it. But so do agencies. That’s how we win, even in a time of chaos,” he said.
So, what kind of training will the industry demand of the professionals in future?
Speaking to exchange4media, Bell said, “I think the business in general will demand a different level of trained people. While we largely have single discipline practitioners, we increasingly see a need for holistic training and thinking from professionals in the field. The kind of education they will need is, therefore, a holistic, all round training, and that will help them throughout.”
He added that the industry across the world was moving in that direction.