BEYOND Advertising!

Vignettes from A Day In Your Not-So-Future Life

As I walked into the bathroom, the body scanning sensors could tell I had a rough night. Sure enough, looking into the mirror, it displayed an ad for Panadol(extra strength) which was dynamically inserted as sponsor of my morning sports video highlights. In addition, a coupon offer from Nabo coffee was presented along with my daily agenda, which I dropped into my mobile watch.

 

My automated home system had already connected with my Google self drive and ordered me a car. Since I had earned over 1000 points last month based on my social sharing activity, I received an offer to try 3 breakfast items from a sponsor, Tim Hortons, with the caveat to ‘ please share your thoughts on the breakfast with your social network. I devoured the greasy delight while sitting in the backseat of my selfie-car while it drove into the city.

 

The ads that rose from the ether as I looked out of the windows were personalised and behaviorally driven with time and place considered.

 

When I selected quiet, contemplative music for the drive, I wasn’t surprised when the ‘ brought to you by ‘ included a yoga studio and a spa; both offering same week specials if booked within an hour and a voice link to testimonials from ” friends ” within my social network.

 

At the office I entered the Google collaboration holodeck with five others; we connected to the global team(another 12 members) and used voice, text, touch screen tech to share, move, grab, iterate on ideas, designs, models(which we 3D printed) for the proposed E Sports stadium for the Brisbane Olympic Games in 2032.

 

On the way home later I received several invitations to stop or order dinner for home delivery, al, based on known preferences, what I ate yesterday, my bio read for today, with ratings from within my social sphere.I decided on delivery(noodles) and decided, once home, I needed a good laugh, so asked my virtual video concierge for all Academy Award winning comedies of the past decade, along with ratings my friends had given and also asked to see if anyone wanted to co view and connect this evening.

 

While watching the comedy film, I was on Twitter and received sponsored Twitter amplified comedy shorts; both were outtakes from the movie I was watching and ” best of ” clips from the actor’s other work.

 

I ended the day in bed with my e-book reading a few pages to me, along with sharing tomorrow’s weather(brought to you by Carrier) and any key meetings on my agenda( a reminder from Timex).

Bruce Neve, Former CEO, StarcomMediavest Group 

 

What we find compelling about this above extract from Bruce(projected in 2013) is that the vast majority of what he describes is not only possible today, but is being practiced, tested and evaluated for new levels of effectiveness related to traditional approaches by marketers across categories.

 

Going Back In Time

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Genesis 3:1–5

 

If we assumed this biblical account were literally and historically accurate, we might argue that the serpent was the first advertiser, and this was the very first instance of deceptive advertising. Setting aside that some people would challenge this description’s historical accuracy, others likely would argue that it isn’t advertising—it’s direct selling! Or perhaps it’s public relations. Does that really make a difference? Of course, if the serpent was the first adman, that makes all of us in the industry a professional descendant of the serpent.

 

If we are to look at the future of something, then it is important to correspondingly understand its historical, cultural and anthropological origins. Therein lies some telltale signs and the crystal ball.

 

It is said that the future arrives gradually and then all of a sudden.
We’ve been hearing about the pending “death of advertising” for years, with ever-increasing ads having less and less influence on actual consumer decisions. Today, the up to 10,000 ads we see every day makes each of them less impactful. It turns out that hitting people in the face with a fire hose is actually a bad way to convince them they should take a drink.
The consumer is hard to impress( we could call them ‘ infidels ‘ in some way) and the next decade of advertising relies completely on them buying into our largely tech-driven, utopian vision of making every single advertising message relevant to the receiver. If you consider yourself able to predict the future within any reasonable degree of accuracy, you’ll know that a solid human understanding is absolutely essential.
Over the next 10 years, advertising will move further away from communicating to predicting, and emoting, based on human needs. According to a study by neuroeconomist Paul Zak, three out of eight people now love brands more than their spouses, because thinking of brands releases more oxytocin – the same reaction generated when being hugged. 

Without a doubt, we’re going to witness(or already witnessing) a shift from obsessing over what advertising looks like, to what advertising feels like. As we call it at ISD Global – Unique Feelings Proposition(UFP) is far more significant than the by now passe Unique Selling Proposition(USP).

And for that to happen, advertisers talking will get replaced by advertisers listening. Hearing what the customer is saying will be more important than trying to devise a break-through creative idea. Answering customers’ questions. Right now. Not tomorrow.The individual is the shaper of her own identity and its own online & offline presentation. She is no longer the consumer of the media. She is the medium– the most trusted and personal channel through which content is created, flows, finds shape, and gets presented to the world.

 

The hyper-personalization of advertising will indeed further empower the consumer but it may also save advertising from its oft predicted doom. 

 

In order to develop a future for advertising brands, there could come into existence a Need Bar. The Need Bar would be personalised for every consumer, so as to give her the ability to look for anything she needs at any time.This would result in a brand not only being present in the life of a consumer, but also catering to her every need, from any brand. Inevitably, the future of advertising will incorporate more consumer knowledge derived from the hard sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics, to complement that acquired from the softer sciences of psychology and sociology.

 

The needle is moving. Most advertisers in the very near future(if not already) would have completed their natural evolution from adjacency(stand next to the stuff people want!) to interruption( stand in the way of the stuff people want!) to content marketing (be the stuff that people want!). Enter a new era where brands that do business using a Consumer Era ” marketing as manipulation ” mindset will become irrelevant and superseded by companies that demonstrate a Relationship Era mindset. And, as forces at play lead the Relationship Era to the tipping point of wide acceptance, I believe that marketers will not be known as the scoundrels who spin but rather people with the greatest expertise in crafting authentic relationships– and adding most value to their brands and businesses.

 

What if?

– What if marketers and brands saw their marketing and advertising as an investment and a value creation engine rather than as an expense to be squeezed?

– What if the brands were seen as bringing in not only advertising dollars but also valued content to the media properties and channels they use?

– What if the creative, analytic and strategic genius that lies within the sum total of the world’s media, advertising, digital, creative etc agencies, research firms, ad tech companies, sponsorship, brand placement, – and all other players who ‘ feed off advertising ‘- were given a more inspired briefIncrease sales and leave the world a better place. Come in on budget and be proud to tell your family about what you helped create. Help us, all of us, be in thought, word and deed, create something truly exceptional!

– What if the community were to be expanded to all those whose actions imparted the brand and how it actually came to life for its audience? Not only the traditional stakeholders, but also others who could potentially describe the broader value of the brand and the brand experience in even more creative and impactful ways.

– What if all the ways that brands were brought to life with their potential and current customers were thought of holistically, and resources were allocated accordingly?

– What if every bit of the US$ 780 billion plus paid, earned and owned advertising expenditure around the globe not only resulted in sales and profit, but also resulted in net positive impact on society and culture? What if, in addition, it made a positive impact on the lives of those who were involved in it and influenced| inspired by it?

WHY NOT?

As Albert Einstein famously asserted ” Without changing our pattern of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems we created with our current patterns of thought “.

 

Amid all the changes, “the fundamental things apply as time goes by,” to quote the famous song from the classic movie Casablanca. A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is still a sigh, and human nature doesn’t change over time. Our obsessive drives to survive, to succeed, to belong and to be loved, to take care of our own—those passions have been heightened by the pandemic, and advertisers and their agencies who are sensitive to those basic needs will create brands to meet them, an act that will always require advertising.

 

Creativity will remain the most powerful force in business, and instead of changing campaigns with every change of a CMO, advertisers will rediscover the importance of consistently projecting a clear sense of purpose and doing so with a distinctive brand voice. Along the way, we’ll learn the difference between an algorithm and a true insight into human nature and the important difference between big data and a big idea.

 

Advertising has been both cause and consequence of social change.Never was it more obvious than since the start of the twentieth century. That, of course, is both a positive and a negative. It is a powerful tool of change, and like any tool, it can be misused. And at times it has been.I have no doubt that advertising will rise to meet that challenge.

ENDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘FIED ‘ and Tested

‘FIED ‘ and Tested
If judging others constitutes full time employment, then most of the world is a very well employed space.
As beautifully articulated by Stanford professor Mark Gerzon, “The world today has an advocacy surplus and an inquiry deficit “.
‘ FIED ‘ can fall into three buckets:
QualiFIED means that you have done the work, earned the trust and have been invited to join us. You get a seat at the table. More than ever, the current technology and the lack of gatekeepers mean that your body of work could earn you the benefit of the doubt and give you a chance to speak up.
DisqualiFIED is what happens when you over promise and under deliver or you expose intent that’s not in alignment with what the rest of us expect or need.
UnqualiFIED is rare. It’s at a premium. Like in “ you have our unqualified support “. Getting the benefit of the doubt long after most people would have lost our trust is a hard won privilege. It’s very hard to earn unqualified support, so if you earn it, be careful to not waste it.
The worrying trend though is far too often even well before we begin looking at skill, we are judging people for other reasons. It is definitely not done and highly wasteful.
Being confused about what makes one qualiFIED or not, perpetuates injustice.
It is a rapid race to the bottom.
And if your quest is for the True North, then south is not the direction to head in.

One Picasso A Day?

If one were to ask what is the most loyal thing in the world, it would be the ‘ bodyclock‘. Time after time, day after day, it never lets you down in waking us up. I guess, that too, is a creature of habit.
 
Being an old schooler, waking up and writing down the ‘ to do task list ‘ of the day is de rigueur. And on the rare occasion, the list falls shy of occupying a full A4 page, disappointment gets writ large. After all, ‘ Men are from Mars ‘. And Machiavellian abilities for Herculean tasks are expected to go hand in hand. How remiss!!
We have been hardwired to think that working is productivity. But, is productivity working? After all, the map is not the territory. Nor is noise, the signal.
 
Distraction is the only constant “. How things have changedIn an on-demand, 24/7 society, where distractions cost millions of people relationships, health , peace, productivity and profitability, it’s time to pay attention to what matters most.
We are living through a crisis of distraction. Plans get sidetracked, family and friends are ignored, work never seems to get done. And that in the wake of first love and passion being firmly put long ago on the back burner, be it music or sport, travel or discovery, reading or writing..not worth it.
To create extraordinary lives, we can (re)learn to “unplug” from the constant barrage of disruptions and “plug in” to the tools, strategies, and mindsets that will allow us to harness our attention to reach our highest potential. 
You sit down at your desk to work on an important project, but a notification on your phone interrupts your morning. At home, screens get in the way of quality time with your family. Another day goes by, and once again, your most important personal and professional goals are put on hold. Story of our distraction fueled, notification driven lives.
 
If we can prepare ourselves to be as indistractable as possible, zero in on distilling the vital few from the trivial many, and be prepared to look in the ugly mirror, we can stop running on the treadmill of mediocrity. Not just that. With high focus, extreme prioritization and unflappable emotional labour, we can all get to producing our ‘ one Picasso for the day .’ What do you uniquely do that matters the most? After all, you can only do one thing really well at a time. SIP by SIP. Engage in some Mutual Fun!
Most big, deeply satisfying accomplishments in life take at least a few years to achieve. This can include cultivating a loving relationship, writing a book, getting in the best shape of your life, raising a family, building a business, and more. A few years is a long time. It is much slower than most of us would like. If you accept the reality of slow progress, you have every reason to take action today. If you resist the reality of slow progress, five years from now you’ll simply be five years older and still looking for a shortcut.
 
Where’s your paint brush? The canvas and the easel awaits. And your version of the Guernica.
So, time to offer a serenade to life, in all its terrifying and transcendent uncertainty, sung in ink, watercolor, and wonder.

Demographics is dead. Long live demographics!!

Historically, brands and marketers have sworn its allegiance to demographics. Like the proverbial Tweddle Dee and Tweddle Dum. But there just might be a twist in the tale. As quoted by Trend Watching: “You’re not the only one who’s confused by consumer behavior. Consumers themselves aren’t behaving as they should “.

 

In a post demographic era of consumerism, is it time to throw out the traditional (and tried, tired, trusted and rusted) demographic models of consumer behavior?

 

Let’s look at some really interesting snippets that break all molds of convention:

 

In the US, women now account for 41% of the universe of video game players-STATISTA

 

Asilo Padre Cacique, a retirement home in Porto Alegre, Brazil, hosted an activity day for its elderly residents a few years ago, featuring a skateboard exhibition and graffiti artists. Yes, you read right: skateboard exhibition and graffiti artists.

 

“If you look at the list of the 1,000 favorite artists for 60-year-olds and the 1,000 favorite artists for 13-year-olds, there is a 40% overlap.”-GEORGE ERGATOUDIS (HEAD OF MUSIC, BBC RADIO 1)

 

All the above may seem disconnected but it does give us a peep into where consumerism is headed. And it is not at the happy intersection of demographic centered models which brands have comfortably honed over the past several decades. This is a new path to tread. Consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more. In this era of post demographic consumerism, brands are realizing that people across all age groups, across multiple markets are constructing their own identities and that too more freely than ever before.

 

Yes, we still do have our usual suspects: the early adopters of products and services that brands love: Young, affluent, influential, loves experimenting and burdened with lesser commitments. This (as is empirically proven) the ideal scenario.

But as more and more brands and marketers wake up to the new reality: that any and all revolutionary – or simply just compelling – innovations will be rapidly adopted by, and/or almost instantly reshape the expectations of, any and all demographics. Without bias or prejudice. One size need not fit all or it just could!!

The always on Society is now too fluid, ideas now too easily available, the market now too efficient, the risk and cost of trying new things now too low (led by the digital world, but increasingly the case for physical products too) for this not to be the case. Let us understand why.

 

Today’s consumers – of all demographics and in all markets – increasingly buy, source and use products and services from the same mega-brands: Apple, Facebook, Amazon (the technology sector is especially universal), IKEA, McDonald’s, Uniqlo, Nike and more.

 

The ubiquity and collective familiarity with these global mega-brands, when combined with the global reach of consumer information, has also created if not a shared consciousness then certainly a new level of POST-DEMOGRAPHIC shared experience for consumers, from 16 to 60 and beyond and from Boston to Beijing, Capetown to Melbourne, Mumbai to Miami.

 

So what should executives and brand marketers look at doing to come to speed with this new reality. Well, there are a few innovation opportunities waiting to be grasped:

 

-Fall in love with the new normal (which is not normal): Embrace and celebrate new racial, social, cultural and sexual norms.

 

-Let heritage not be a baggage: Be prepared to re-examine and even overturn your brand heritage.

 

-Inorganic demographic pollination: Go beyond your comfort demographic zones. Explore foreign demographics hitherto not tapped into for ideas and inspiration.

 

-Borrow from the Long Tail effect: Explore smaller niches of interest. There is serious potential resident there.

As we move into the future, successful products, services and brands will transcend and move beyond their initial demographics almost instantaneously. Brand executives who continue to attempt to navigate using demographic maps, with borders defined by age, gender, location, income will be under-prepared for the speed, magnitude, and direction of change.

 

There is no doubt that understanding consumers’ needs and wants remains critical (Consumer Insight & Market Research companies will go out of business otherwise, isn’t it?). However, it will be those that take a broad view and learn from innovations that are delighting consumers in seemingly dissimilar or even opposing demographics that will succeed, regardless of which ‘traditional’ demographic(s) they serve.

CAVEAT EMPTOR: There is a Great Demographic Reversal: Through Ageing Societies, Waning Inequality, and an Inflation Revival, post the pandemic.

Demographics(as we knew it) is dead. Long live demographics!!

 

The Creative Apocalypse: Preparing your Client

The Creative Apocalypse: Preparing your Client!

There is great, there is good and there is average (ok).

Superlative. Comparative. Relative. Most of us want  (at least there is good enough intent!) to do good work and over a period of time how that transmits to average and below remains an unsolved mystery. Have we ever started out saying; ” Let’s do some Great Work “? No one came into the profession thinking ‘I really want to produce work that’s a bit meh, a bit vanilla, that makes no impact on the world and sinks without a trace.’ So how come we don’t see brave creative work that often? The occasional breakthrough shines like a lighthouse across a lacklustre sea of work that is often undeniably boring, weirdly familiar or just more than a little disappointing.

 

So how is the end game playing out? It’s a whole new world out there. Recession or no recession- there is a perennial pressure on budgets and jobs. The ‘always on shifting media landscape and the move from broadcasting messages to managing conversations. The balancing of brand, ROI and an increasing reliance on data and metrics. There is safety in numbers (metrics reloaded!). Data is the new oil. And that too is now old hat. And how! All of these things have stitched together a sinister conspiracy in the last 10 years or so and made it more difficult for creatively brave work to ever see the light today(with some exceptions of course).  It takes real balls for a client, or an agency, to take a leap of faith in this climate. Till then, it’s a lip of fate! And sealed at that. ‘ Faith accompli ‘ anyone?

Where does the skull drudgery end? What can be done? Selling creatively brave ideas requires an ability to promote the safety of risky situations (don’t miss the contradiction here), psychological management skills and a client that can hold their nerve (while letting go of her purse strings!). Sometimes you have to help hold it for them.

This situation provides both agency and the client an absolutely perfect platform to do creative tango. So here is the brief(in vest in it!): Depart from norm(it’s the mandatory new normal, so no big deal), break free from convention whilst remaining true to creating lasting campaign impact and brand recall. Surprise, delight, coerce, intimidate, purposefully provoke, question and come back to do more of the same. The brain remembers only what it least expects. So, deliver the unexpected. Don’t just hand hold the client, hold her heart and get to your customers’ soul in the process. That soul stirring exercise should be your sole purpose.

 

USP(Unique Selling Proposition) is passe, dead and buried. The time is about creating UFP( Unique Feeling Proposition). 

 

WANTED: Creative Bravehearts. On both sides. Ready to take the leap?

B(r)AGging Rights!

Had some waiting to do upon landing at the airport, so decided( after the usual polite skirmish with sweat, suede and swear words) to be an inno scent bystander next to the baggage carousel as it aimlessly(and somewhat harmlessly) went around in circles. So here’s the 360 Degree on it, motivated, well, by bags of time!
– The absolute nonchalance with each and every piece of baggage gets treated once it finds its (p)ride of place on the carousel has convinced me that the carousel is the only place in the world that is completely agnostic to brands. Tumi, Louis Vuitton, Delsey, Tommy Hilfiger, Samsonite, American Tourister, VIP, BOSS, Echolac, Safari…all came (and went) alike. The message was loud and clear. Rest in Piece…till such time your owner gets a handle on you!
– Nowhere will you see a better study in contrast. The bags taking its own sweet time to get to where it ought to, unabashedly relaxed, clinically unrepentant, approaching arrogance ( I am the BOSS here, you better give me the VIP treatment), do not intrude on my hammockstyle existence..On the other side, the owners: anxious, impatient, irritated, worried, chaos personified.

– The bags I tell you love drama (and some gymnastics as well). Every now and then they bring you to the edge as they salsa, spin and swirl but manage to stay on top of the carousel. That in the process they knock off a few socks from ankles and uncles is a different story. Really edge of the seat stuff! 
– The area surrounding the baggage belt is actually a medical practitioner’s delight. The ideal place to easily diagnose the following including but not restricted to: Slip disc, Parkinsons, Blood Pressure, Hypertension, Colour blindness…is it blue or green? And the real owner sees red in the bargain. If you don’t mind, could you please help me offload the bag – I travelled light this time-it’s just 87 kgs( any more and she would have had to hire a cargo plane).

– Do you think the carousel is an ideal candidate for acute nausea? Imagine going around in circles, hour after hour, day after day- where does it begin? And where does it end? Flight or fight? Methinks its happy to be a spin doctor!
– So the next time you travel, carry XS baggage. Xtra Small. Give the carousel a break…unless of course you want to see some Delsey, all at sea! Boss, it makes no sense Tumi! Wait- I will ask Tommy– maybe HILFIGER it out!

“Life truly is a journey, and the less baggage we carry the easier the ride.” ~ Wally Amos

ENDS

WANTED: Editor-in-Chief: For LIFE!

I was never even mediocre at either math or arithmetic. Hence, if this fails to add up, I am completely at home with it.

So the writer who breeds more words than she needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads ” – so said Dr. Seuss.

Every year at the Oscars, the award for Best Picture gets all the fanfare( this year, of course Will Smith had other ideas). That may be stating the obvious. What might be not so obvious is in contrast, the award for film editing flies under the radar. But you may be surprised by the correlation between these two awards.
Since 1981, only three films have won “Best Picture” without also being nominated for “Best Film Editing”.
Why is editing so crucial in filmmaking?
A good film editor removes distractions by eliminating trivial or irrelevant things. She uses deliberate subtraction to add life to the ideas, setting, plot, and characters.
The best films are exceptional not because of what we see but because of what we don’t see.
We can draw parallels here. And use the same principles to edit our own lives. We might be from Mars or Venus but on Mother Earth our never ending to-do list need not be a perennial match for our Herculean, Machiavellian competence and calibre that we seem to have been willy nilly blessed(cursed?) with. Probably there is a space to begin by ‘ separating the vital few from the trivial many ‘. The over ignored practice of essentialism.
Mind you, this is no easy task. To distill and rein in our incorrigibly elastic task list. How will we answer our ego? Or camouflage our insecurities? We find comfort in “keeping our options open”. But having too many options leaves us without direction. Having a few focused options gives our life a clear direction and makes decision-making easier.
Eventually, every cut ​we​ make brings joy. Maybe not in the moment, but soon ​we​ will realize the time ​we have​ gained can now be spent on something better.
​We, as people, ​systematically overlook subtractive changes, instead following ​our​ instincts to add. There is nothing inherently wrong with adding. But if it becomes a default path to improvement, that may be failing to consider a whole class of other opportunities​.
The paltry rate of subtraction in our ​life or ​organizational-improvement​ journey is appalling.​ To improve a redundant piece of writing, few produce an edit with fewer words. To improve a jam-packed travel itinerary, ​we hardly remove events or places to​ allow ​us​ to savor the ones that remained. To improve a Lego structure, ​we hardly take​ pieces away. Whether ​we​ ​a​re changing ideas, situations, or objects, the dominant tendency ​i​​s to do so by adding.
​In an increasingly attention starved​, attention craving economy, subtraction ​h​as a ​noticeability ​​​p​roblem​. When we add things, apparently it gets noticed. But when we subtract..we seem to miss the point.
Life has a way of taking over. We start running on auto-pilot especially when we are overwhelmed, in over our heads, or simply worn out from all that life is throwing our way. And this year, life is throwing more than ever our way.
After a while of trying to keep all the balls in the air, we stop paying attention and simply start reacting. Amidst all the chaos, we know something has to change, but we don’t know what or how.
When was the last time ‘ nurturing our heart and soul ‘ was part of our to-do list? It hardly make​s​ the list of things to take care of during the day. If ​we​ prioritize the nurturing of our heart and soul, by taking time to listen to what they want, by engaging in soul-soothing activities and by using them to guide our actions, ​we​ ​can​ get our life back. ​We​’ll remember who ​we​ are​(otherwise in the stage called life​,​ we are all practicing ‘ selective amnesia ‘)​ and begin to attract people and projects that are a perfect fit for the real ​us​.
S​o what is the take away? ​Yes, you guessed it, take away, to make way!
BEGINS

Die Empty!

Caveat Empty..sorry Caveat Emptor: The caption of this piece is inspired by Todd Henry‘s seminal book of the same name.

Look no further. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. No, I am dead serious. And it is a matter of grave concern.

“ The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”- so said Les Brown. And what a telling commentary that is on the ‘ ground reality ‘ .

Most of us live with the stubborn idea that we’ll always have tomorrow. But sooner or later all of our tomorrows will run out. It is finite.

We have: One life to live. One life to die. One life to learn and practice what you have learnt. One life to learn multiple skills, arts, hobbies, sports…multiple professions. One life to experience joy in what you perform. One life to share, give, pass on, teach and donate so that you die empty but Rich every which way.

Look within. Let’s define it as WINtrospect(there is no such word in the dictionary, yet). There is a gold mine waiting to be explored. But, all that we seem to do is exchange ourselves for fear to trade on a silver platter. So busy short changing ourselves. As they say, ‘ ideas are plenty but ideas without action are regrets ‘. No need to die before we die. That is called living empty. If power dynamics were to come into play, go empty to the graveyard. Prepare to disappoint it.

Eckhart Tolle has beautifully articulated that the ‘ present is a present ‘ in his book, The Power of Now.

Could have‘, ‘might have‘, and ‘should have‘ must be classified in the ‘Must Not Have‘ category of life. So, instead of being afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin. No calendar is going to tell you when to live your life. The  greatest loss is not from rejections and failures, but comes from what dies within us while we live.

Discovering your voice is rarely a linear path, but instead is the culmination of a lifelong process of observation, course correction, and risk-taking that eventually leads to the recognition of a valuable contribution.

You came to the earth with loads of inspiration and influence. Dare to offload them out of you before you die. Give out all you carry along into the world and when you are ready to go back, go empty handed!

So, do what lights you up! Day in, day out.

ENDS

The unimportance of practically everything..

Burnout is not a badge of honour. And for all of us testosterone spewing Type A+ tribes out to give Hercules an inferiority complex, the red flag is out..
Relaxation is both an individual and collective responsibility.
Rest is NOT idleness. Rest is NOT a four letter word.
Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. Rest assured!
Empty days are important. It is important not to ‘expect’ to produce or do anything..
A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged, damaging day, a sinful day. Certainly NOT so!
The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, be..
And, if you are seeking five star validation, take inspiration from the 5 Star TV ad that says ‘ Do Nothing ‘.
Awareness is often enough to motivate change.
When was the last time you experienced the changing light of a room as we robotically laboured from dusk to dawn?
All the rest…best!
RIP: Rest Is Peace!
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ADVerbatim: Some micro and macro outlooks

The caption of this article is a bit of soft pedaling. I am quite uncomfortable with the word ‘ trends ‘ because it is in more ways than one camouflaging what is called ‘ herd mentality ‘ which leads to the inevitable SOS(Sea of Sameness). And in an increasingly commoditized world, you may be birds of the same feather, but..flocking together ??
Amidst the tempest of pandemic driven uncertainty and disorientation, here’s a crystal ball gaze at some obvious and not so obvious landscapes that the advertising industry could be witness to in the coming months.
– The biggest boycott in history to continue- I am referring to ad blocking– with over 600 million devices in its universe and growing, the wake up alarm has long been sounded for brands, agencies and advertisers. According to Hootsuite, the UAE has close to 40% of ad blocking( countries like Indonesia, India are at over 50%). Research states that one of the primary reasons for ad blocking is too many ads that are irrelevant, annoying and have nothing to do with creativity. Creativity is future proof and the sooner brand guardians get re-sensitized to that, in a pull and engage scenario(as against the widely practiced push and control), the better.
– Unless something dramatic happens, online programmatic advertising is writing its own obituary. Advertisers are being abused blind by adtech ferrets. Research from Media Post concludes that out of the US$200 billion global spend, 70% of advertising dollars spent on online programmatic advertising never touch a human being. In effect, $140 billion disappears in “ad fees, fraud, non-viewable impressions, non-brand-safe placements, and unknown allocations” (by “unknown allocations” you can read “shit that no one can figure out”).
 
– The pandemic brought first-time advertisers to many platforms, especially OOH and DOOH, 2022 will be no different. New categories like Fintech, NFTs, Crypto (with their supporting companies), and Online/E SportsWellbeing,EdTech, FoodTech categories will continue to flourish. After the dash for Expo 2020 attention, big opportunities will come to the fore for advertisers courtesy the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
– Advertisers and marketers will need to be as nimble as consumers. The pandemic not only accelerated omnichannel retail but also created hybrid behaviours beyond how we shop. From a mix of virtual and in-person fitness to IRL experiences with digital extensions, how we work, play and live is fluid and consumers expect brands to keep up with the rapid pace. For marketers, that means mapping every consumer touchpoint and applying a collection of insights – location, identity, cross-device, in-person, in-stream, etc. – to creative concepts that earn consumers’ attention while respecting privacyThe agility of marketers to behave as nimbly as consumers will translate into brand loyalty in a rapidly growing hybrid world.
– A largely ignored, under served imperative will come to the fore for marketers and advertisers- Building company culture: The industry never had attrition rates as high as it had in 2021, and we’ve never had as many remote employees either. The Great Resignation continues unabated. Last year, the better organisations focused on retention and put a hyper-focus on recognition. Without in-person interactivity, you have to be so deliberate about your culture, especially during remote work. In the coming times, brands and businesses will put a lot of focus on how they create a culture of retention, diversity and recognition. Creativity will have to make a serious comeback.
 
– For better or for(commerce)verse- Last year we saw a continued acceleration of social with e commerce and sowing of the seeds of ‘ community commerce ‘ glued together by community, creators, shopping and entertainment like never before. In 2022, we’ll see social commerce give way to the “commerceverse” as people begin to move from entertainment to purchase. And as consumers look to build out their environment with virtual goods and experiences, brands will have the opportunity to connect with consumers in a surround-sound way.
 
– Agency In-Housing: The in-housing trend at brands will not go away, but it is in reverse — to a point. Turns out, it’s too expensive, too complicated and too political for many brands to do at any real scale. Especially when so many businesses are trying to wrangle costs, not inflate them, during a global economic downturn. The pandemic’s knock on the economy forced many marketers to live hand-to-mouth and the flexibility offered by agencies proved to be critical to survival.
– Artificial Intelligence will find a greater say in services like copywriting and content generation– especially with tools like GPT 3(Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) -an autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. It helps instantly generate high quality copy for Email, Ads, Websites, Listings, Blogs & More. Save Time And Money Writing Clever, Original Content And End Writer’s Block Forever is the pitch.
 
– One should have heeded this as a premonition- sometime back the Meaningful Brands study conducted by Havas told us that most people would not care if 74% of all brands disappeared for goodHow can brands bridge the gap between apathy and action, particularly with that all-important millennial audience – the biggest generation and the leaders of tomorrow as we collectively take responsibility for getting closer to the UN SDG(Sustainable Development Goals).If we want to change the world, we all have to be involved. All people, of all ages, every brand, no exceptions. Bridging that gap means recognising that brands can be citizens too, with a responsibility to promote, share, create exposure and help to make change. Most importantly, brands can help people to connect to a political process that will make an impact on the world they live in – and that their children will inherit – to act as citizens themselves and not simply as consumers. That is a brand’s role as a citizen – to help consumers be citizens too.
 
To quote Woody Allen, ” 80% of success is just showing up “. There is no better time to create a bright future.
 
– Playing it by earWhile our eyes may be ‘maxxed’ after more than a year of relentless screen time, our ears have bandwidth. Our ears are more reliable curators, opting for human connection and unscripted conversations that podcasts and radio provide. A recent WARC Lion’s Intelligence study showed consumers now spend a third of their media time with audio, but most brands spend less than 10% of their media budget with audio. There is no question brands need to right-size their audio investment. But, getting beyond the spreadsheet and learning how to create a real human conversation with the consumer is the secret to winning with audio. Here’s to more conversations about how brands can get heard and get growth with audio in 2022.
 
– This is how the cookie crumbles:The impending demise of third-party cookies has drastically altered the digital advertising world while simultaneously highlighting how vital first-party data is and will be into the future. For now, first-party and third-party data will continue to exist, and advertisers can maximise this opportunity to run various experiments to ensure they are ready for when third-party cookies are no longer a source of targeting data. Brands that embrace first-party data, contextual advertising, and other third-party data alternatives today will be the industry leaders tomorrow.
– RIP to RFP? : The RFP(Request for Proposal) bandwagon indulged in by enterprises from agencies to extract the cheapest possible price for their services. This comes with scant regard to competence, expertise, empirical evidence and worse who contributes the original idea which is now happily being sacrificed at the ‘ cheapest pricing altar ‘. And we are all aware that ‘ insider trading ‘ is not just restricted to the stock market. Time to cremate this archaic, merit agnostic practice.
 
– Measurement will be back as the next frontier in 2022 — fueled by the unprecedented rise of CTV, the uncertain future of cookies and identity transactions in digital, and the disruption of Nielsen ratings. As we build for an ever-interconnected digital future, the ‘measurement reset’ is an opportunity to build the relationships between consumers, content creators, publishers and their advertising partners.
 
– Meta will emerge as part of brand experience and communication conversations and NFTs(Non Fungible Tokens) will begin to come into the brand ecosphere but we are still some time away from these becoming right, front and centre.
 
I remain conscious of brevity and hence would come to a halt here though there are quite a few more that I would have liked to list as we telescope into the emerging future of the advertising and marketing industry. Maybe in a separate piece.
 
ENDS
Suresh Dinakaran – Chief Storyteller at ISD ISD Global, a Dubai based branding and ideas hotshop and the Managing Editor of BrandKnew, a multifaceted media asset, published across print, digital and web versions.