7 things the industry must change to remain future fit, according to its rising stars

It’s no secret that adland has come under pressure of late. So what should the industry be doing to remain future fit? Campaign asked the industry’s future leaders from our Faces to Watch 2020 what they think the industry should change to remain a relevant, powerful force.

1 Improve trust in the industry and digital media

Priya Chauhan, head of media activation, Team Quorum, Essence

We need to increase transparency and understanding around the advertising industry. For too long, the industry has been shrouded with an air of mystique. When people are left to fill in the gaps as to how they are advertised to, often they will fill in with negative stories.

This happened as far back as the 1950s with the Mad Men-style advertising executives right through to now, when our use of data is being called into question because people don't know where their data is being collected and how it's being used.

I think there should be more education and more openness from the industry so the public can make informed decisions as to how their data is used and how it does and doesn't benefit them.

Sian Rider, creative strategist, KidsKnowBest

Transparency is vital, especially with "new" distribution channels such as social media and, in particular, influencer marketing. There needs to be more regulation as the industry matures and adapts. Everyone knows linear TV as a medium is in decline, but in order for us to adapt to more relevant channels, trust needs to be established. The short-term need for a quick buck needs to be replaced by long-term thinking. This can be said for many things outside the industry too.

Sophie Jacobs, brand manager, Tesco

We have experienced the decline of traditional media and we see this decline intensifying. The problem for digital media is trust. There is a huge opportunity to drive trust through transparency and accountability. It is evident that through personalisation, businesses can cut the noise for customers and solely serve relevant communications. But for this to be truly successful, first trust must be achieved.

2 Take risks

Charlie Celino, sales lead, News UK Social Studio

Don't be afraid to take risks! 2020 has truly been difficult, not only for our industry but also the global population. In the same way that we classify ages throughout civilisation (Iron Age, the Industrial Revolution to the age of the internet), we will always refer to this as a post-Covid age. Our lives have fast-forwarded at one of the quickest paces in human history. We remember these ages because people took risks and developed products, which enhanced our lives for the better. This is exactly what we need to be doing to ensure we are future-proofing our business and are delivering for the customers of tomorrow.

Luke Alexander-Grose, junior planner, VCCP

I think we should prize creativity and innovation above all. As our work becomes increasingly influenced by big data and fine-tuning, there is a danger that we're less likely to take risks and make challenging creative work. This is especially the case in a recession when clients are more risk-averse.

3 Focus on outcomes, not ego

Yasmin O'Neal, brand and sales personal care director, Procter & Gamble Northern Europe

The industry needs to have a stronger focus on return on investment. This doesn't mean cutting spend; rather, it means being hyper-critical on why you're doing something, what it is going to achieve and whether you're investing at the right level in order to achieve it. We've seen brands do great things with a budget of £8,000. You don't always need big, weighty budgets in order to make an impact; you need a big idea that has cultural resonance.

Jidé Maduako, chief executive, Yoke Network

I think there needs to be more understanding that media ownership is shifting, that media is owned by creators, not the platforms. The industry needs to embrace technology and instead of glory-hunting by making stuff that looks good, they should be more data-driven and focus on what works.

4 Increase diversity

Catrin Tyler, business director, Dark Horses

Advertising is enjoyed by people from all backgrounds, but the industry doesn't attract this breadth of diversity. We need to be more ethnically diverse, embrace talent outside London (without requiring them to move to London) and different socioeconomic classes. The industry would thrive from these different talents and perspectives.

Priya Chauhan, head of activation, Essence

It's been widely spoken about recently, but the industry needs to do more to engage people from different cultures and different parts of the country to join and work in advertising. It's through diversity of talent that interesting and new thinking can shine through – where innovation and creativity can continue to flourish into the future.

5 Streamline processes to be more reactive

Joanna Gomer, head of campaigns and media, Lidl GB

As an industry, we are brilliant at listening and reacting to consumer and market trends. However, some of our processes across certain channels inhibit our ability to be reactive, such as TV booking deadlines or copy supply service level agreements. One of the benefits of Covid was a review of these processes. I am hopeful the industry will continue to re-evaluate these, so that more channels are able to support truly relevant campaigns, enabling them to have greater impact and resonance.

6 Be a force for good

Lucy Cooke, Beanz brand manager, Kraft Heinz

To maintain relevance, the industry should continue the increased focus we've seen in recent months on being a force for good. It's also important that the industry remembers its role of being timely in culture and that we have the tools and thinking in place to evolve along with our consumers.

Bene Tanser, senior motion designer, Elvis

Covid-19 has already had a massive impact on the way we consume. Global emissions are down during lockdown and 77% of consumers don't want to see us go back to a disposable and jet-set economy post-lockdown.

This positive environmental shift is a small start on a much longer journey. In order for our industry to remain relevant, we need to seize this opportunity to re-evaluate the impact we as an industry have on society. We need to look at metrics such as eco-effectiveness that go beyond profit to promote sustainable values, attitudes and behaviors to drive meaningful environmental change.

Abbie Howard, planning manager, Dentsu X

In recent years, I have seen big moves in the industry in response to wider movements; for example, the increased concern about sustainability and the climate, and more recently in response to Black Lives Matter. This has been very encouraging. However, we need to ensure that we aren't only riding the wave of zeitgeist.

Black Lives Matter will be relevant well after it leaves the front pages and the industry needs to be making foundational changes now so we are truly changing the industry for the better. Advertising gives us real power to influence the conversation and make a difference, and it is our responsibility to use that power beyond when it generates headlines.

7 Have more confidence

Matt Gainsford, strategist, Lucky Generals

It's not a change, but we need to keep advertising advertising. We need to celebrate the fact creativity can have a significant impact on business performance.

Top image (clockwise from top left): Tanser, Cooke, Maduako, Tyler, Gainsford and Rider

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