Old-school ideas are alive and well

It’s time to em­brace our rai­son d’être, not spurn it, writes Grey’s Nadim Khoury

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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