Theo 28 January, 2009 18:50:PM
There’s no escaping it, times are rough and tough. We’ve been bracing ourselves and tightening our belts to the point where we’re running out of notches. Green shoots of recovery? Yeah, right.
Clients are shaking their heads as they ponder budgets for 2009. The IPA and other industry gurus will no doubt be knocking on their doors with some solid scientific evidence that cutting ad spend has a long-term detrimental effect. Will it be convincing enough? Partly. But accountability will be more important than ever.
We creatives can expect a rather large magnifying glass to hover above our heads, scrutinizing our work and looking to extract every last drop of value from it. Clients will be looking us straight in the eye and demanding, “hey smart Alec, stimulate me some green shoots,” as though it’s all our fault.
You can imagine agency presentations across town this year. They’ll be rather like the old Fairy Liquid TV ads. “Your previous strategy only washed this many dishes. Our fresh, new, lemon scented strategy will stretch your budget to this many dishes.”
We’re already seeing conventional reactions to the crunch; big football sponsorship deals being pulled, four figure global lay-offs, corporate art projects canned.
Spectacular big budget broadcast will be seen as spectacular, big budget wastage. “Open on a tropical beach? You’re having a laugh, mate. What’s wrong with Skegness?!” And that’s just in the tissue meeting. Increasingly throughout 2009 you will hear themes of empowerment, sustainability, innovation and inclusion surfacing in articles.
Industry old boys will continue distancing themselves from broadcast, “Did we say tropical beach? Noooo! Of course we meant Skeggie.” New kids will be hyping the relevance of ’social’ and ’service’ design. Digital agencies can go even further: “We open on user generated shots of Skeggie.”
Yet do we need to get all doomy and gloomy about this? Well, it’s not ideal. I’ve seen tropical beaches and I’ve seen Skegness and, with all respect to the Lincolnshire Tourist Board, I know which I prefer. Yet, the new economic climate does open up a very real creative opportunity.
The good news is that clients are on our side. They know that, as the crunch bites down hard, creativity needs to flourish. Not just in the way it connects them with their consumers, but the way it helps run their business. Working smarter, innovatively distributing content and creating cost-effective dialogues is now higher up the agenda than ever. CMO’s will be empowered to make the big balls decisions using “the current climate” to reinvent their approach to their budgets.
So let’s not disappoint them. We too need the balls to grasp the challenge. Let’s reinvent the industry; move from Broadcast to Narrowcast. Embrace Branded Generosity. Be being bold enough to zig while everyone else zags. Connect with consumers by building believable brands; ones that stand up to the scrutiny of the empowered consumer.