If industry conversations are anything to go by, it would appear that advertising can do with reinvention to be able to stay relevant to the businesses. But for Dick van Motman, Chairman and CEO, Dentsu Network/Asia, reinvention is at the heart of everything that advertising does, so advertising itself is reinvention. The industry, on the other hand, does need shaking up and finding a different way of doing things.
Advertising’s textbook definition is the activity of attracting public attention to products and services. “That is what we are doing but there is a lot missing there,” observed Mr Van Motman. He added, “How about the earned and owned media or the art and science. Most importantly, what the output of this functional activity should be is missing in that definition. We think that reinvention is a functional necessity. That is what advertising is about. Advertising does not need reinventing – it reinvents by being itself. Advertising needs redefining. Advertising has the license to be different, but for some reason, we are stuck.”
The real need of the hour is to engage with audiences and connect brands and services with people. A firm brand point of view, embracing differentiation or something that is of higher order is core to engagement. Consumer today is part of the discussion and brands need to be telling compelling stories to stay part of that discussion.
The old advertising mantra of Attention-Interest-Desire-Action may have given way to Attention-Interest-Search-Action-Share but it also implies that some learnings of the earlier ways are still relevant. It is important to understand what has changed and what needs to change.
With the growth of technology, the need to be reactive as a company or an agency is bigger today. It also means taking risks. The central focus of consumer behaviour and engagement has changed. TV is not the only medium that people interact with – 77 per cent of people watch TV with mobile phone on. For Dentsu, mobile is taking centrestage and there is a shift in primetime.
“We don’t think about campaigns. Campaign is an old way of thinking. It starts and ends. When brands are part of society and social media, we have to be always on. We have to be able to master complexity while providing cohesion. The convergence of data, media and creativity is happening right now. This requires agencies and brands to be fluid. But we cannot be that if we do not know what is fixed,” said Mr van Motman.
Reiterating that engagement had to be put at the centre, Mr van Motman stressed on the need for agencies to reorganise mindsets and structures internally. While talent and teamwork was important, an agency’s ability to ask questions also took precedence.
“When you can ask questions, you think bigger than just an app or a campaign. You think platforms and partnerships. You can do disruptive work such as pioneering content and creating platforms that advertisers can use for advertising or promotions. And this is over and above building viable business models. If you ask yourself ‘what if’, then you reinvent technology consistently. In order to move client’s business, as an industry, we need to first move ourselves,” stated Mr van Motman.