Nick Emery: "We are in the business to create and take risks"

We in the media seem to have an overriding obsession with being in the assurance business rather than the invention business.

We work to create new things and have fun doing it, but risk sucking the joy from our lives either through suspicion, a blinkered mathematical approach or a lack of conviction.

Our priorities seem to be trading desks, programmatic, audits and procurement reviews. All really important but not the be-all and end-all. My week was saved by what I thought would be least likely to – a British industry awards dinner and a table full of people at Business in the Community, who all loved what they were doing and did it for that love.

We have a collective schizophrenia. Virtually every chief executive and chief marketing officer wants a new world: a mobile, social, brand love-in that is also outcome-based and world-famous – but if that can’t be measured and everyone is not assured upfront that it will work, then let’s just do what we did last year but cheaper, and with two brass knobs on.

Suspicions abound, we seem to have opted for passive-aggressive combat, claiming to collaborate but all secretly trying to define and dominate a new world order. There are simply not enough risk-takers in our space who do their job with conviction and want to work together for the joy of building something new versus a desire to annex a new business model.

I hadn’t expected the BITC event to be anything other than the usual awards fun. Yes, David Walliams did embarrass men from Rochdale, with none in return asking how his voiceover for Pudsey is going. But the table I was on was an inspiration.

On one side was Geoffrey Kent, the founder of Abercrombie & Kent and a man who knows how to travel and, on the other, Tim Lawler, the chief executive of SportsAid. We also had Virgin Galactic and Africa Aid on the table, against the backdrop of an industry doing its bit for society and ex-servicemen. It was a disparate group brought together by Jaguar Land Rover, but all with one thing in common – to help society and create new businesses that are run fearlessly and without having to reassure a thousand accountants before buying an idea.

Even a borderline socialist like me was moved – especially by the heroism of Captain David Henson, who put all this into context.

This article was first published in Campaign