Sometimes we make judgements too quickly and our arrogance allows us to believe that we are right and on the right path. Then you spend time really delving into an issue and have 5 other personalities and opinions to bounce yours off. You stop for a moment and realize, that what you thought you knew was in fact not exactly right.
I have been part of 10 previous Digibates, all great and all with some really incredible market insights and sharing from the panel, but this last one we did on Future proofing Africa and the role that communications will have to play in it, took me to new paradigm of thought – Going forward I think all of us in the marketing, media and advertising world need to be far more aware of the impact our creative campaigns, slogans and campaign executions when we “sell” a concept to our clients and at the same time it is our responsibility to start making them more aware of what they are putting out in the market place and the possible effects it will have on our community, not only today, but tomorrow.
Let’s stop for one moment and really think about the world of advertising. Simply put, the advertising industry including marketing and public relations are not future proofing their clients businesses in a sustainable way.
There is a general perception that advertising encourages unsustainable practices – people are told to want and buy more. Many people ask the question – ‘’How can one be sustainable?” when a constant message of consume more, spend more is put forward?’’. We continue to see stereotypes and prejudices still widely used by advertising agencies to market products (stereotypes of woman, minorities and races are all pervasive throughput the industry) and advertising continues to flog the illusion of the ‘’ideal’’ person for product X .
These advertising judgements are thrust upon consumers and alienate people. This creates a distorted view of society and may cause specific emotional problems i.e. lack of self-confidence and worth and friction between different groups of people.
Surely now is the time to tackle the problem and implement changes for the betterment of our society and industry, but firstly we need to realise and change the fact that the advertising industry can no longer hide in the business to business supply-chain.
The new internet driven age has ripped away the secrecy behind how business in conducted in all major industries. The tired old adage ‘’It’s not us, it’s what our clients want’’ is no longer cutting it in today’s interconnected and vastly accessible market. Agencies need to begin to take responsibility for the content they put out into the market.
The advertising industry has changed dramatically and due to the world of new media consumers now have multiple means to view content, and skip adverts. Due to this constant barrage of information, consumers have begun to lose trust in advertising, where once there was a feeling that ‘’what you are trying to sell me will help with my life’’ has changed into ‘’you are just trying to get me to buy a product’’.
So what can be done?
A change in mind-set and a development of new ways to produce and market advertising campaigns in a way that lessons the damage to the environment. An idea might be to rather use online advertising on a key targeted site knowing you will reach the people you want to – as opposed to producing and putting up a massive bill-board and hoping to reach the people you want to. Start looking at things from a different perspective. Go on try it – you may find it easier than you think.
Get involved – a glib statement, but I mean it. Spend some time with your creative team and your clients and find out from them what makes them tick, what is important to them, ask them how they would look at doing their brand campaigns in a more environmentally and people friendly way – you may be surprised at the outcome.
Also don’t be afraid to speak up. Consumers know when they are being “hood-winked” – so don’t go there – give them the facts and be honest. You will note that honest and directness is always the best policy and opens more doors than a pretty ad campaign.
Be responsible with your content – advertising has become the new content in today’s modem world. Acknowledging the diversity of audiences is paramount. Be very aware of the visuals and values you are promoting in your campaign. Start with this question – would I want or accept this in my house? Your house is your client’s house is your consumer’s house!
Transparency and new thought processes are required; in essence the Advertising industry needs its own PR campaign based around modern day realities and sensibilities. It’s step one on our journey and only if there is a concerted effort across the industry and across this continent – only then can we really start to future proof Africa for generations to come.
The panel on the Thought Leadership Digibate: Dawn Rowlands – CEO, Aegis Media / Mike Freedman – Partner, Freed Thinkers / Chris Loker, Founder, Water Financial / Deon Robbertze, Founder, The Change Agent /Kevin James (moderator), Founder, Global Carbon Exchange
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