Advertising Week


Advertising Week 10th Anniversary Official Guide

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Advertising Week: What are the big changes you see happening in the industry globally? Stephan Loerke: There's sort of three main drivers of change in our industry. One of course is technology, across the board. Technology is changing the mar- keting equation for all sectors. Second is globalization and the fact that, increasingly, we're seeing global brands operate in a variety of geographic regions that weren't on the map all that long ago, whether it's in Asia, Africa or Latin America. Third is society. There are a number of societal debates that have implications for what marketers are expected to do. Transparency and privacy, gender stereo- typing…etc. Those are the three biggest changes that are reshaping the environ- ment in which we operate. AW: Trust is obviously a big point of tension in US, but how does that fare from a global perspective? Are we seeing a similar wave of mistrust breaching into the media industries in other parts of the world? SL: It's big on our agenda. Who do people in society trust today? We've seen over the last year or two a total collapse of trust in government and media. Not only in the US, but globally. There's a few exceptions, China being one interestingly enough. Trust in China is actually very high. But overall, while there's a collapse in trust in government in media, trust is higher in NGOs and business which is interesting because it means that people are expecting more from companies and from brand owners. That effects what we're supposed to be doing and how we're supposed to be behaving. AW: WFA is in the business of setting standards for responsible marketing communications around the world. What are some ways in which the WFA has done that in the last few years? Where will the WFA set its sights to next? SL: Advertising is about our industry being able to meet people's expectations. There's a conviction in our industry that if you want to be connecting with consumers in a meaningful manner, you must be doing that on the terms of the consumer. But the consumers are changing, so the standards need to refl ect those changes. You begin to realize that we as an industry haven't suffi ciently synced with society today. We're still guilty of using our data to stereotype which has an im- pact on the way those ideas are received. A focus now will be in challenging the industry to adjust to what people are expecting from us and project a message of confi dence and hope, and one that is directed at the future. In other words, there's sort of two new frontiers for the WFA. Advertising has ex- isted in western markets for a long time, but hasn't in countries like China, Russia, as well as many African markets. A big challenge with that will be setting an ethical standard that applies across the industry, and another will be when we talk about addressing unforeseen challenges in the future. Making sure the content is legal, decent and truthful is important, but we feel this movement will have to be increased over time to address new, additional challenges. When you look at the online ad experi- ence, in many respects it's a frustrating experience. You get pop up ads, ads play- ing sounds—it's an experience that turns people off. That's not good for the brand (they're paying for that interaction) and not good for trust in advertising in gen- eral. As an industry, we must stop to look at the quality of ad experience beyond just looking at what we do as ethical. We need to ensure it's acceptable for consumers, otherwise it's a waste anyways. You're not gaining anything. In the future, we need to move into that space. A second major opportunity going for- ward is data collection. So much of digital marketing is powered by data. That is what is ultimately going to help us become more relevant, meaningful and targeted. But we have to be sure the way is collect that data is acceptable for consumers. There's a lot of discussion about the image and brand of America right now. How do you see that impacting American brands? SL: Brand America is bigger and more powerful than any US administration, including the present one, because it's been shaped by history and by people and by values. The American dream has not only survived—it's grown. I think it's fair to say that in the current context, US brands may experience headwinds, but I would argue that in a context like this one, what people will expect is for brands to demonstrate their ethos, their values, their commitment to consistency. I think that's what ultimately builds trust and confi dence over time. There are moments which are easier than others for brands, and today's environment is probably a challenging time for them both in the US and internationally, but that's when we will be able to see the commitment of those brands long-term. • 318 PERSPECTIVE 324

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