So, 2007, eh?

HNY & all that. Really.

I’ve spent the past week or so doing absolutley nothing, as planned and to a very demanding schedule, except sitting on the sofa, watching films, eating, and venturing into the outside world only when strictly necessary.

A beard grew.

Somehow, and to my wife’s consternation, I knocked out a 120-page screenplay about vampires called “Shepard”. Look for it in 2008.

As I begin the process of re-emerging from the cave and going back in on the 8th, I’ve been thinking about 2007.

Here’s what I’m thinking about 2007.

1) The dramatic changes sweeping the advertising world will become much more visible and pronounced. The measurement houses – a good investment bet. Traditional ad agencies – maybe less so unless they get their houses in order.

2) Due to market and cliche saturation, we’ll see fewer movies about vampires, unfortunately. But keep your eyes open in 2008.

3) Brand will continue to rise in importance as the key differentiator — but there will be increased debate about three things.

One, the relative value of branding in different industries — clients will start looking for more industry- and sector-specific thinking, not generalised one-size-fits-all models. A global telecomms operator will require robust global telecomms brand thinking; a European bank looking to enter the North American market will require robust bank branding expertise in both markets. Agencies will need to demonstrate, explicitly, an understanding of — and very clear ideas and models around sector- and industry-specific branding — including far better consumer insight than currently is demonstrated.

Two, of course you guessed it, measurement — linking brand building activity to the bottom line. Some are ahead of the game. (Some aren’t. I just read a book that I’m reviewing for a magazine and it’s by the guys at Fallon, a swish ad agency [by the way, be patient while their really fat and ‘look how clever we are’ website loads, wasting your valuable time].  They have this metric called “brand minutes.” There’s a chart showing less “brand minutes” before a campaign was run, and more “brand minutes” after a campaign was run.  And the cool thing is that since the campaign was cheaper, and more people saw it, you see a massive drop in the cost of “brand minutes”. You have got to be kidding me.  Going to have to better than that, guys. Harvard Business Review isn’t losing any sleep. ) Oops, pardon the digression.  They do do some cools ads, actually…

Three, brand engagement. OK, you probably guessed that one too. But brand engagement encompasses the other two, and ranges across all stakeholders — from consumers to potential consumers to influencers to a range of stakeholders to employees to contractors to their spouses and families to government and regulatory agencies to competitors … the list is a big one. Big lists need analysis, categorisation and prioritisation.

And, these groups overlap, so it’s a complex system/network.

I’m not predicting a landslide of practice changes, visionary and inspired changes client side, or on the part of brand expertise service provision. The world doesn’t work that way. But I think 2007 will be a year where we see some really interesting new approaches to cracking these problems.

I think we’ll see digital engagement methods blossom, inside and outside companies. I think we’ll see far more creative and exploratory approaches to customer and retail experiences offline. Economics and competition simply demand it.

At the same time, I think we might see some tired “old” approaches revised and revisited. A lot of the past couple years has been so much about innovation that sometimes the best tools get left in the shed in favour for a shiny new one, with power, that doesn’t do the job as well.

I think we’ll see the Social Networking hype die a dot comm death. Sell your shares now, kids. Note, I say the hype. Social Networking has been around as long as there were more than two people aboard the planet, so that concept isn’t going to die. The good people will continue to use that thinking across the entire communication and engagement spectrum.

A final prediction — IABC and IABC UK will raise their profile. I’ve been doing some branding work and the boards are working very hard across a range of efforts. It’s a great organisation if you are a professional communicator. Check it out.

Anyway, there’s a lot more on my mind, like finding a Triumph TR-4A… and delivering a nice new flat screen TV to my mother in law!

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