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Being Positive About the Future of Advertising

Does advertising have a bright future?  If we’re talking about doing things the way they have always been done without changes, then yes, the future is bleak. And where change isn’t happening fast, that’s because the agency still makes enough money doing things in the same old way.

If however we’re talking about ‘back to the future’ on some level, where agencies focus more on investing in talent and culture, things are a little less transactional and about hiring and firing at will, things can be good.

There are some agencies that have found more balance between short term profit and creating a great place to work. These are also places that have crossed the rubicon and evolved a new way to make money, one typically either more integrated in the focus of the outputs or have a brand experience focus in mind, typically the same thing.

So what degree of confidence should you have in your current role?

Some of the questions that will clarify this for you. What are the outputs of your agency? What does it offer and how well does it deliver on the promise? And, how committed it is to a short-term P&L versus investing in the medium and longer term? Is it an agency more focused on relationships and partnerships than making the next quarters’ numbers? Of course whatever the place you work, how positive you can be does depend hugely on the value you provide.

The Market

Companies/In-House Agencies – There are some solid examples where in-house  works but in many more cases it hasn’t in large part because the move to developing in-house agencies has been driven by procurement. The reason why most companies work with agencies is because they are seeking creative thinking borne of creative cultures. Simply bringing creative talent client-side does not in itself make for a create environment and so agencies will still be needed.

Consultancies – Perceived as a short-term threat to agencies, they have compelled the agency business to become more business focused. Even without consultancies, the emergence of digital channels created the transparency and immediacy of results for clients which called for a transformation of the agency business.

Agency Leadership/Quality of Thinking – The reason why the agency business hasn’t innovated is not because there isn’t the strategic thinking to know what needs to be done; It’s not due to a lack of strategic or business savvy. It’s actually because the agency business still makes a lot of money, particularly the holding companies, that don’t want still very profitably run agencies to change, even if their focus is one or a few channels. (This hasn’t been without huge impact on employee salaries and job security). The good news is, the business does have the quality of people needed to successfully navigate the business forward. It’s the business model that’s the problem.

Creativity Rules – There will continue to be huge uncertainty over the next few years as agencies adjust. That said, there is a greater need than ever to find creative ways to get people engaged with products/services. New integrated marketing agencies will and are appearing. Ones that are as much about targeting algorithms as they are at impacting consumer actions. But above all else creative thinking will remain key.

Why I’m Optimistic?

Consumers – Are not going away. People still wish to be made aware of new products and services; There will always be a need for storytelling, the essence of great communications; And creative engagement, whatever the channel (pre/at/post sale) is as much about the future as it is mobile.

How Well Positioned Are You Where You Currently Work?

Your Organization – If it’s an integrated agency, you are much better positioned than if it’s not. Conversely if there is a focus on one or more channels, pick a leader in the field.

Your Expertise – If you are an effective strategist or creative, great at understanding consumers, great at building business, you should be good.

Timeframe – In the short term, whatever you do there will be uncertainty as even if you do a great job, and even if you are part of an integrated organization, it in turn is part of an industry and culture experiencing seismic change.

Personal Growth – If you are someone that welcomes variety, constant learning and new challenges, you are more likely to successfully navigate forward. If you don’t know what skills you should develop/what makes you most marketable, contact me and I will try and help.

Travel at Home..

‘Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world’ (Gustav Flaubert)
So true Gustav, but living in the moment in your daily life also allows for quality of experience, engagement and thereafter, true understanding.
Beautiful Friday it is in NYC, happy weekends one and all.
#Living #Inthemoment #Understanding #Travelathome #SPARKIN


Don’t Play The Fool… How The Savvy Select Their Jobs

More and more workers are taking the view that they are the sole drivers of their careers in what Peter Murdock refers to as the new reality of employee loyalty, in which the workplace has become a transactional environment.

Given the new employment realities, as companies require ever greater flexibility, and when headcount forms the greatest part of business costs, this trend will continue. This explains why ‘75% of the causes of employee turnover are preventable,’ (Valerie Bolden-Barrett.’ HR DIVE 8/17).

‘Most employees see themselves as being hired to perform specific tasks and, once they feel they have mastered this role, they seek out a new opportunity,’ or companies decide to let them go.

The downside of regular job changes is being perceived as a ‘flight risk’ by the hiring manager, cynical of employees not prepared to provide the commitment that agencies aren’t typically themselves making. Arguably those risk averse hirers and cultures are the ones to avoid!

Truly smart employees are not only pivoting around task mastery but they are also pursuing career opportunities which they feel will allow for their broader personal growth. For the brighter ones this is about job variety and a personal desire to grow but for many it is seen as a necessity.

A 2016 Pew Research Center Survey ‘The State of American Jobs,’ highlighted that 87% of workers believed it will be essential to get training to develop new skills throughout their working lives simply in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.’

‘We’ve learned that what really effects people is their sense of how they are doing compared with others and their peer group.’ Brian Kropp, HBR.

Smart employees are not only focusing on skills areas to develop but are selecting business areas less easily supplanted by artificial intelligence, Think: Creativity/imagination/emotion/strategy/selling. They are also seeking to be challenged and to work with others and in cultures where their values culturally align.

Looking forward, will more individuals not simply think about skills and experiential development but think that the greatest job security (and personal growth) will be realized through envisioning new business opportunities in which they become their own bosses? Certainly the flexibility required by employers is increasingly making us all more focused on one business at least, that of our own careers.

Adaptability the Key to Success 2018 and Beyond?

A 2017 report by talent experts Right Management highlighted 91% of HR managers thought that by 2018 individuals would be recruited for their ability to change/adapt. Meanwhile, 53% of employees believed that adaptability would be a key driver for success. Some discrepancy.


‘It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.’ (Darwin) 



  1. Do employees truly underestimate the importance of adaptability or, do they believe other factors (such as intellect and emotional intelligence are more important?)
  2. The trend for full time roles continues to point to ever shorter tenure in advertising/marketing. The average employ of a CMO whilst up to 44 months in 2017, bucked a ten-year decline prior to last year (Market Technology Insights 3/28/18)

What might exacerbate this further?

i)   Corporate needs – Budget pressures point to constant change and push toward flexible work contracts.

ii)  Employee preferences – Flexi-work hours/job variety, which many want, provide flexibility, but the but also create much greater complexity/juggling of tasks.

iii) Rapid Technological innovation will continue – Moore’s Law refers to the doubling every two years of the volume/capacity of computer chips, which will make everything move even faster,         further challenging business and employees to adapt.

What do you think?