Old-school ideas are alive and well
It’s time to embrace our raison d’être, not spurn it, writes Grey’s Nadim Khoury
Grey MENA CEO Nadim Khoury says we mustn’t be blindsided by technology. Advertising’s principles remain the same.
There’s never a quiet day in advertising. Far from it, in fact. New technologies and changes in consumer consumption patterns continue to revolutionise our industry, just as falling budgets bite deeper and deeper. Global brands have centralised marketing and communications strategies and reduced local spending. The world’s internet giants, despite suffering a discernible backlash over the course of the past two years, have continued to dominate the digital realm, while the advertising industry has been busy fragmenting along multiple lines.
In our region this upheaval and transformation has been compounded by conflict, political instability, the fluctuating price of oil and dips in client confidence.
But we all know this, right? Traditional, brand-led creative is becoming less important as we face a fundamental shift from brand-led to experience-led communication. Meanwhile, in-house agencies are increasing in number.
Where does this leave traditional advertising agencies? In a tight spot, undoubtedly, but one that nevertheless encourages clarity of vision. Because there’s nothing quite like the threat of obsolescence to focus thought.
Let’s not be blindsided by technology. Certain things need to change, of course, such as agency structure, manoeuvrability, the marrying of creativity with data and the ability to innovate more freely. But we also have to recognise that the seed of our future success was planted many years ago.
If there’s anything that has been learnt from Nike’s association with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, it’s that old school advertising is alive and well. A simple idea will continue to trump everything else, no matter what the media and regardless of algorithms, voice recognition or artificial intelligence.
We shouldn’t be attempting to compete with tech giants within the realm of data, or be battling consultancies head-on as problemsolving business thinkers. No, our strength is, and has always been, human ingenuity. By that I mean ideation, storytelling and the ability to emotionally connect with consumers.
Technology can help us amplify that human ingenuity – customise it, personalise it even – but there is a need to go back to basics. The basics of big ideas, brand values and creative strategy. And if brand strategies are going to be increasingly global, those ideas have to be stronger than ever.
This is not to say that we ignore data, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and everything else. Far from it. Technology will give us the ability to completely immerse audiences in our clients’ stories. But it’s through big thinking that those stories will dynamically be brought to life.
So let us think big. Isn’t that what marketers want, after all? Those creative gems that set them apart.
No, our strength is, and has always been, human ingenuity. By that I mean ideation, storytelling, and the ability to emotionally connect with consumers.
NADIM KHOURY Chief executive officer, Grey MENA