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Advertising Week: The uncomfortable truth about marketing

Mark Earls, who goes by the title of 'Herdmeister' at the Herd Consultancy, gathered key marketing leaders together on the ITV stage at Advertising Week for what promised to be a no nonsense chat about the industry.

The charismatic host quickly introduced the metaphor of the Elephant in the Room which would form the basis of the conversation. Each speaker would, in turn, discuss an unaddressed truth within the industry.

Patricia Corsi at Unilever talked about our obsession for more and more data, which visibly resonated with the audience. She cited the human condition to continuously want more and more of something that is valuable and readily available, yet warned against forgetting the overall aim of putting the customer first. Corsi also remarked on the worry of ‘analysis paralysis’, where big decisions can’t be made without the data to back them up. Northern and Shell’s Rob Hunt from the audience raised a point about the justification of such brave direction. In answering, she remarked that behind success is the experience of failure and of trying new things, even when the data would suggest otherwise.

Dominic Grounsell at Travelex was concerned with the workplace and the attraction of talent, which can be difficult to think about once already in the industry. He stressed the point that to make our workplaces the best places to work we need a healthy mixing pot of personalities and skillsets, all with the ability to communicate effectively. He questioned whether or not the industry is doing a good enough job to compete with the banks and consulting firms who are quick to intercept students and graduates as they make key life decisions about the direction of their career.

Earls closed out the session by inviting the audience to write their 'Elephant in the Room' on a green card which the Marketing Society will use to put together another panel discussion. Certainly the most audience engagement I had seen all week from a fantastic hour.

By Will Green, Mindshare UK, reporting live from Advertising Week