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Advertising Week X Official Guide

Advertising Week 10th Anniversary Official Guide

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David Jones—Global CEO of Havas and Founder of One Young World B ack in 2011, I published a book called "Who Cares Wins: why good business is better business". The basic message of the book was that digital and social media had created a world of radical transparency and had empowered people to hold businesses and leaders accountable. That businesses, therefore, needed to change and be much more socially responsible if they were going to succeed in the future. As I was preparing for the book tour, there was one question I was convinced I was going to be asked. Here I was, a guy from an ad agency, preaching to the world about business needing to do good and I expected to be challenged with: "Who are you to be lecturing us about being socially responsible? Your industry created the problem in the frst place and made people buy things they didn't need or want." Why We have to kill the consumer 198 ADVERTISINGWEEK.COM #AWX I was never actually asked that question. But it remains a key one. The answer I would have given is this: "If you think our industry created the problem, then you have to believe we can also help to fx it." And that is what this article is about. There is no denying that there is a lot that needs fxing. Business behaving in the wrong way, ruthlessly pursuing proft for proft's sake, brought the world almost to the brink of fnancial and economic collapse from which it still hasn't fully recovered. And one by-product from this irresponsible period of clueless capitalism was the birth of the "consumer." The c-word isn't just a symbol of an era; it also has to be one of the most patronizing terms ever invented. It's a damning indictment of business that it labelled people as "consumers," as if their sole purpose in life and reason for being on the planet was to mindlessly consume any and every product put in front of them and to gullibly ingest our often annoying and repetitive advertising messages. So if we want to drive business to a better place, it's time to kill the consumer. Time to stop using that term and to start using the word "people" or even "customers." Now, changing behavior isn't easy. But that's what we have to do. I actually use the word throughout my book and I still fnd it slipping out of my mouth every now and again. But we have to try. We are at an infection point in the world, in the midst of a revolution that is every bit as signifcant as the Industrial Revolution. But whereas the Industrial Revolution empowered companies, the digital and social revolution is empowering people. Through the power of social media, they can and do reward those that act responsibly and punish those that don't.

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