Creating, Not Predicting, the Future

February 3, 2014

by Layla Romero

Marketing finds itself in a peculiar situation: consumers are more fickle and sceptical than ever before, due to the glut of ads competing for their attention; yet emerging technologies provide new tools and platforms to be used by the individuals responsible for crafting these messages. Does this mean that the marketer’s job is becoming more difficult, or more interesting?

The BCAMA’s fourth annual Advertising Agency Panel brought together some of Vancouver’s brightest creative minds to ponder the future of the ever-changing field of marketing.

According to Lance Saunders, Executive Vice President of DDB, there’s little chance of effectively predicting the trends of the marketing industry. What’s noteworthy is the rate of change and innovation in unlikely areas – which explains why we are experiencing the DDB slidedigitization of everything from home thermostats to scooters. In the case of remote-controlled light bulbs, we saw the convergence of the physical with the digital, which many consumers were eager to adopt, while others mindfully sought out a more “offline” existence, where their information is less easily gathered and circulated. The implications of having their data collected weighs heavily on more and more consumers and their purchasing behaviours.

St Bernadine’s Mike Krafczyk, Partner of Client Services, speaks from a different angle. Despite the emergence of new tools, marketing remains firmly rooted in the art of persuasion and creativity. What’s changing is the need for greater connection with the consumers – a move that is strengthened by the emergence of customer-service oriented agencies and brands.St Bernadine slide Consumers care most that brands are positively impacting their lives, and customer centricity provides the experiences and shareable stories that allow brands to stay relevant in the public eye. If steakhouses are willing to deliver a dream meal in the arrivals lounge of an airport, then you know that other brands will be seeking opportunities to stage similar scenarios that exemplify their brand promises.

Neil McPhedran, General Manager of Grey, spoke more of the implications of data less is more Greycollection through the blending of the physical and digital worlds. Consumer behaviours can now be tracked through endless channels, which means that selling opportunities are plentiful for consumers – and inescapable. With this in mind, he revealed the re-emergence of the “less is more” philosophy that could steer consumers away from the “purchase paralysis” that’s caused by a surplus of choice.

Chris Staples, Cofounder and Creative Director of Rethink, was quick to remind the event’s 300 attendees of the dangers of “selfie marketing”, which makes up a large part of many brands’ social media presence.  The equivalent of the obnoxious stranger who bringsRethink slide the conversation back to themself at every opportunity, selfie marketing alienates the brand from the consumer’s favour and notice. Chris predicted that savvy marketers would leverage their various tools and channels by allowing consumers to tell their own stories regarding their experience with a given brand or product. Such sharing of experiences rests in the social media “sweet spot”, which is an elusive but attainable position for the truly intuitive and sincere organizations.

Generosity, social currency, emotional appeals and sincerity are all factors that dictate why some innovations are more successful than others, yet consumer behaviour is ruled by a number of unpredictable and often irrational influences. After all, we marketers have proven time and time again that our industry forecasts are hardly ever right. Ultimately, it is up to the brilliant and the truly talented to stop predicting the future, but get better at inventing the future.

The next BCAMA event will be An Evening with The League of Extraordinary Digital Thinkers, on Feb 20.


Layla Romero (@laylayuki) is a member of the BCAMA Marketline Committee. Aside from a variety of marketing gigs, her principal job has only been revealed to a few and is yet to be discovered by the general public. (Editor’s Note: Really – you’ll never guess!)