Marketers Are Innovators, So Please, No Lagging

There is a struggle underway for the soul of Adland. Such is the case when power, prestige and privilege slip from an industry’s grasp.

It doesn’t help that many young, talented people prefer to work in tech, where the perks are stellar and the challenges never-ending. Hell, wine runs from water fountains in Silicon Valley and other pockets of technical innovation like Boulder and Austin.

How are ordinary citizens of Adland to compete?

Insert Contagious, a company that helps brands and advertising agencies understand and adapt to shifts in marketing, consumer culture and technology. Addressing the Adverati at Cannes last week, Contagious execs Nick Parish and Will Sansom helped ad people feel better about themselves and their chosen profession.

Let’s listen in.

Parish and Sansom managed to weave Bill Bernbach, Howard Luck Gossage and Mary Wells Lawrence into their talk. Hey, that’s what I would do if I was on stage. Show your alliances and some knowledge of what came before.

“Creativity should not serve technology. Technology should serve creativity,” reasoned Sansom during the talk. Sounds good. But you know what sounds better? Technology and creativity both in service to real customers’ needs. The question for marketers today is so much bigger than what any ad campaign can answer. The question is how to provide something useful, or something beautiful, that also works as marketing.

Coca-Cola is one brand with answers to these non-rhetorical questions. Whether you drink their soda or not, it’s hard not to be impressed with the company’s innovative efforts to provide clean drinking water in Africa and Latin America.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.