Gird your loins for 2017

Damn us if we're not optimistic that this issue will be a guiding light for the next year in the marketing communications business.

Really, after 2016, we’re well aware of the pitfalls of offering up a range of forecasts for what lies ahead. What innocent fools we all were this time last year. But damn us if we’re not optimistic that the following pages will be a guiding light for the next 12 months in the marketing communications business.

And, hell, optimism is your rock-bottom requirement to see you through the year ahead. Lucky Generals’ Helen Calcraft writes: "I love my job. I love this industry. I believe in the human drive to overcome adversity." If you couldn’t say the same yourself, this should probably be the year you get out of the business.

Because one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be bumpy. Campaign serves four key groups in this business – marketers, creative agencies, media agencies and media owners – and you don’t have to get very far through this collection of essays to understand that every one of those groups will be under more pressure this year than last.

If you work in an agency, you’re certain to be subjected to some structural change. Mind you, David Kolbusz is dead right about at least one thing and it’s quite possibly the biggest, most important thing: great creativity. All this looking ahead and working out what’s going to happen and what we need to do about it can be a total distraction from the fundamental job of making the work truly great.

But if there’s one line in here that should chill your spine, it’s the final throwout from Chris Clarke. I don’t want to rob him of the impact of his sign-off, so go and read the whole essay on "The year ahead for digital agencies" yourself. But I couldn’t agree more. If we’re both right, one easy prediction is that 2017 will be bloody and bloody interesting.

Finally, the biggest news this week is the resignation of Robert Senior. He was a founder of Fallon, one of the most exciting and defining agencies of the noughties, and went on to revitalise the iconic Saatchi & Saatchi. Ironically, I reckon he is exactly one of those people who loves the industry and believes in the human drive to overcome adversity; I hope he doesn’t go far.

But the good news is that he makes way for the ascension of his long-standing colleague Magnus Djaba. There are plenty of good things to say about Djaba, his commitment to effective creative brilliance and why he’s earned this promotion. But for now – while we’re talking about looking forward and making necessary, positive change in order to survive – it’s worth underlining that I’m pretty sure Djaba will be the first black male leader of a creative agency network (there’s been a black female network boss – Ann Fudge, who headed Y&R for a while). 

That, at least, is a tremendously positive way to kick off 2017.

Claire Beale is global editor-in-chief of Campaign.      

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