by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2018? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take on the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for. Next up is Peter Khoury of TBWA\Hunt Lascaris.

Peter Khoury

Peter KhouryCurrently chief creative officer of TBWA\Hunt Lascaris, Peter Khoury has delivered growth to his client’s bottom lines, and won numerous advertising awards throughout his career. His work is also featured in Cannes Lions Game Changers — The Evolution of Advertising, and multiple times in the elusive Gunn Report. In addition to advertising, Peter has used his creative energy to formulate his own clothing/lifestyle brand, Zero One Zero, and has also dabbled in the movie business as a creative and marketing consultant.

Most of the successful 21st century brands are innovation brands; Airbnb, Uber, Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Amazon, to name a few, are successful because they saw a gap and came up with a service or product that people want. Their refined brand positioning, mission statement, and values came afterwards. Here are a few observations, along with some opportunistic thoughts, of where we as South Africans may be able to fill the gap in 2018 and beyond.

But first, let’s just be honest and say that 2017 was anything but normal. Just as 2018 will prove to be, because not being normal is the new normal. Traditional trends, even predictable seasonal trends, recalibrate to become something else when the speed of disruption in business, politics, culture, society, and technology is happening at the rate at which it is currently happening in almost every facet of life. These provide both challenges and opportunities, in equal measure.

Happening on scale

So where is the product and innovation happening on scale? Michael Spence, Nobel Laureate in economics, points out that the US and China will call the shots when it comes to technology, especially digitally integrated technology, well into the next decade. They largely own the innovation landscape because it’s in their culture to constantly fund basic research, and then reap the benefits when their innovations are commercialised and marketed to the world.

We as South Africans are huge consumers of their products and are, to varying degrees, also influenced by their trends. We will be marketing an increasing amount of these foreign goods and services to our citizens until we rise to our full potential as a country and decrease the amount of natural resources we export, and instead export our own finished goods made from these resources.

The US and China are also home to the leading platforms for social interaction and, perhaps most importantly, artificial intelligence capabilities that use and generate mammoth sets of useful data. It’s this data that will continue to influence every industry it touches in profound ways. Brands around the world are sinking their teeth into this data, and are often using the words “algorithm” and “marketing” in the same sentence.

Lead the way?

Maybe we as South Africans can lead the way in 2018?

Gathering the data is not proving to be the challenge; however, knowing how to read and interpret this data is where immediate and long-term opportunity lies. Observations lead to insights and, locally, our insightful strategic abilities have been the basis for great communication ideas that have won global acclaim time and time again.

While traditionally a product innovation gives you a competitive edge in the market, the successful interpretation of big data does the same because, when you see something that no else sees, or you see it first, this insight could give you a significant commercial edge, even if it doesn’t manifest as a product innovation. This will be a huge focus globally in 2018 and beyond.

South Africans are great storytellers. Why? Because we can find the great stories in the plethora of information we are given. Having more data just means getting to more distinct stories much quicker. If we collectively embrace big data, we may eventually prove to be world leaders at it.

Breakthrough of blockchain?

Will 2018 will be the year of the breakthrough of blockchain? Blockchain is most well-known for bitcoin but there is more to it than that.

An IBM blockchain research report says that 90% of governments plan to invest in blockchain by 2018. They surveyed 200 government leaders in 16 countries on their experiences with and expectations of blockchains. The report found that nine in ten government organisations plan to invest in blockchain for use in financial transaction management, asset management, contract management and regulatory compliance by 2018.

Trying to market products when blockchain becomes an everyday reality means more transparency and customer focus, which in the end will add up to happier customers. As blockchain technology would make government more transparent, it also applies to the private sector as it enables companies to decentralise (tasks and authority). Traditional companies answer to both shareholders and customers but in a decentralised company the customers are the shareholders, so what they say, feel, or do, goes. So, transparency is key. Will the most transparent companies in the future be the most successful? And will we as marketers be giving customers exactly what they asked for, because they told us? Well, this surely sounds like any marketer’s wet dream; however, Steve Jobs also proved that people don’t always know what they want until they see it and then can’t live without it.

Transformation and transparency

As South Africans, we are making strides towards our purpose of having a more-transformed (talent, skillset, and cultural background) and diverse workforce, and are crying out for more transparency from our politicians and business leaders. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, believes the most-successful companies in the future will also be the most diverse. The successful blending of talent diversity and operational transparency could be the blueprint for a successful growth strategy in 2018 and beyond.

After roughly 20 years in the industry, and with the grey hairs to prove it, I have seen that as much as things change, some things stay the same. It always has and always will be the work with the biggest ideas, regardless of budget or tech, that occupy the headlines and gain significant commercial advantage for their brands. Right now, brands are infatuated with the tech that allows them to deliver the message, rather than the crafting of a story or the ardent belief in an idea. Will the world be over this infatuation in 2018? Probably not. But, in the years that follow, it will be the brands which give us the most-powerful ideas and have great storytelling at their heart that stand the test of time.


#BigQ2018 series


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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