Advertising Week


Advertising Week 10th Anniversary Official Guide

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Advertising Week: How has communi- cation (more specifically, the way we effectively communicate our brand/mes- sages/goals) been fundamentally changed in the last few years? What are the benefits and the deficits associated with that com- munication disruption? Richard Edelman: The flow of communica- tions is no longer top-down, it is horizontal driven primarily by peer-to-peer com- munication and search. So, in most cases what a consumer hears from a friend or peer online has greater impact on their purchase decision than what they hear from a marketer. The viewing habits of the consumer have also changed. They expect media to be visual, short-form and shareable. As a result, we're seeing a convergence of all the services, and media companies moving to the same kinds of formats. Facebook and Google are also now playing a huge role in dictating what kinds of communications, messages and story- telling works. While there are many ways to communicate in this environment, we are seeing the rise of a communications- centric way of programming. AW: Trust is something that seems to have been recently called into question in almost every public institution. Where do you think this comes from? What makes the public question trust in organizations like media and government more so today than in year's past? RE: There is a profound crisis in trust that has its origins in the Great Recession of 2008. And like the second and third waves of a tsunami, ongoing globalization and technological change, along with repeated government and corporate scandals, have further weakened trust in global institu- tions, which people believe have failed to protect them from the negative effects of these forces. The celebrated benefits of free trade— afordable products for mass consumption and the raising of a billion people out of poverty—have suddenly been supplanted by concerns about the outsourcing of jobs to lower-cost markets. The impact of automation is being felt, especially in lower-skilled jobs, as driverless trucks and retail stores without cashiers be- come reality. This decline in trust has led to a grow- ing despair about the future and a lack of confidence in the possibility of a better life for one's family. We have moved beyond the point of trust being simply a key factor in product purchase or selection of employ- ment opportunity; it is now the deciding factor in whether a society can function. AW: You've talked about this important balance between using social media for its power to connect, and honoring the role of traditional media to shape public opinion. How have we seen that called into question in 2017? RE: There has been a fundamental rebalancing between social and tradi- tional media taking place for a while, but this past election cycle in the U.S. shed a light on how significant that paradigm has shifted. President Trump and his administration are deeply focused on giv- ing priority to their social channels over traditional outlets. That's a significant reordering of the historical model, and it's something that brands should pay atten- tion to and embrace. Institutions and brands are better served by going direct to end-users, estab- lishing a channel for direct dialogue and feedback. It is a world of many to one, not one to many. The predominant axis of com- munication is horizontal, with the mass population relying on search and social, not mainstream media. AW: We've also seen brands taking a stance on political/social/environmental issues in a more obvious way this year. Why do you think brands are finding it more important than ever to do so? What are the risks in doing so? RE: Trust in institutions continues to erode, and people no longer believe that they have theirs or society's best interests at heart. Couple that with low regards for leaders, in particular heads of state and CEOs, and you have a populace looking for someone to fill that void of trust. Our Earned Brand data from this year shows that that the majority of consumers are looking to brands to fill that breach. Fifty-one percent of our respondents say that brands can do more to solve social ills than government can. Many brands are starting to understand that taking a posi- tion in support of an issue will lead to MANYBRANDSARE STARTINGTOUNDERSTAND THATTAKINGAPOSITION INSUPPORTOFANISSUE WILLLEADTOASTRONGER CONSUMER-BRAND RELATIONSHIPTHATEXTENDS WELLBEYONDSIMPLYJUST THEBUYINGOFPRODUCTS. CONSUMERSWILLDEFEND ANDADVOCATEFORABRAND IFTHEYBELIEVETHATBRAND SHARESTHEIRVALUES. Few people have their finger on the pulse of the industry the way Richard Edelman does. Previously named one of the highest rated CEOs in the busi- ness, and known around the world for leading his PR firm, Edelman, to become Advertising Age's "PR Agency of the Decade," Richard Edelman is considered one of the foremost experts on issues like trust in the industry today. Advertising Week spoke with Edelman about the current state of the US media industries amid the precarious political climate, and what trends he predicts will shake up the world a year from now.

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