The ad industry is jam-packed full with opinions on how and why it can better itself in the future, and what better time to ponder them than at the start of a new year? As we challenge ourselves to work out more and consume booze less, what does our fair industry and its members need to change in 2019.
We asked this crew to get their opinions.
1. Brett Craig, CCO, Deutsch Los Angeles
In 2019, I think a refreshing change would be to regain our sense of levity as an industry and regain a proper sense of our role in the world as advertisers. I love this business, but in the last few years it feels like as an industry we’ve become a bit too worthy and so very serious. Every brand seems to believe it needs a deep profound purpose or that its role is to be a moral beacon for the world. But newsflash: you’re a candy bar. Or a deodorant stick. You make my armpits smell better. I’m not sure I’m up for you telling me what I should or shouldn’t believe. Can’t a brand’s purpose just be: ‘we make stuff that tastes good’ or ‘we make people smell better’ or ‘we bring a tiny bit of enjoyment into to people’s life’? Oversimplified examples, I know, but for most corporations, aren’t these ‘brand purposes’ more honest and grounded in the truth anyway? And a certain self-awareness and truthfulness from brands about who they are and what they do is what truly resonates with consumers, I believe. I think people are up for the occasional (or not-so-occasional) ad interruption, but in 2019, I’d love to see our messages be more entertaining and less worthy.
2. Todd Sussman, chief strategy officer, FCB New York
My resolution for the ad industry in 2019 is to remember that advertising is an outdoor sport. I don’t mean that it ends up outside. But that it should start there. Too much of how the industry develops strategies, insights, ideas, etc. is inside. Behind a screen. Googled articles. Looking at a spreadsheet of numbers and percentages. Reading a presentation that someone else wrote about people you’ve never met. Get outside! Leave New York City or Chicago or San Francisco. Meet people. People you need to know in order to convince them to buy your client’s product or love their brand. And I don’t mean just go to Sacramento and sit behind a two-way mirror. That’s not real. Go to the mall and watch them buy a vacuum cleaner. Watch TV with a stranger. Join someone on their commute. Stop relying on ‘behavioural data’ and actually witness behavior. This year is going to be a year where people feel even more stressed, tense and uncertain. It will be even more important for the ad industry to stop creating made-up personas of fake people and create things – communications, events, utilities, partnerships or whatever – for people who really exist. And the only way to truly do that is to play advertising like it’s an outdoor sport. Get dirty. Scrape your knee. Play in the rain.
3. Jess Watts, associate strategic planning director, RPA
If exercising more is part of your New Year’s resolution, allow me to complete that sentence for you: ‘Exercise more knowledge on Generation Z’. You’d probably be surprised to learn that in 2019 the population of generation Z is going to match the population of millennials globally - they’re a huge cohort. But they don't stop there. Our research found they are setting a new tempo for the rest of us: Zs are shifting identity to one of 'situational correctness’, reimagining authenticity as curated intent, and exalting the role of fiction over true reality. Do yourself a favour and get to know Z before they start appearing on all your agency’s briefs. And the best part: no treadmill required.
4. Jake Krask, executive producer, SixTwentySix
I think we’re in a moment where agencies and brands are increasingly willing to challenge the status quo and take risks with the content they produce, to explore ways to connect with consumers that go beyond the standard spot or video. Along with that, I see an openness to new voices and crossover talent. For example, perspectives from a music video or photography background are making their mark in the brand space. We’re obviously all for that. Let’s find ways to lead and challenge the status quo in 2019!
5. Jordan Warren, CEO, TBD
In 2019 I’d like to see the topic of diversity move beyond optics to focus on creating genuinely inclusive cultures and unleashing the power that different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives can bring to creating more inspired, informed and resonant ideas. Teams made up of people who look, think and work the same tend to create the same kind of ideas over and over. People from unexpected backgrounds bring unexpected results.
6. Sara Worthington and Armando Flores, creatives, Huge
We have a complaint about how much people love to complain in advertising. We know having a well-paying job alongside like-minded creative coworkers that appreciate your fart jokes is tough. That going to LA so you can turn your fart joke into a fart thing is a real inconvenience. That your office having the wrong kinds of free snacks and an in-house barista that doesn't barista past 2pm is a real problem. And that going to Cannes and drinking too much rosé while keeping track of too many villa / yacht / helicopter parties is too much of a hassle.
Nevertheless, in 2019, let’s swap complaints for gratitude. Gratitude for our jobs, the creativity, the people we get to work with, the laughs, the perks, even for the clients that pay to make it all happen. And before you complain about this blurb (because we know you’re dying to), let us make it clear we aren’t saying to stop complaining about what’s fucked in the world, we’re just saying let’s all focus on being grateful rather than on being a spoiled baby of an industry (no offense to babies, diaper rash is way more complaint-worthy than most things ad people complain about).
This message has been approved by the desk of Sara and Armando.
7. Jaime Klein Daley, EVP, strategy & insights, POSSIBLE
Make it a rule to put people on lines of businesses they’ve never worked on before. The desire for subject matter expertise is admirable, but today, cross-pollination is an absolute requirement, and tangential thinking is what keeps everything from getting stale and repetitive. We should aim to pair insiders who understand the nuances and tricks of their category with those who see things with fresh eyes, to create more interesting and creative collisions. Our investment in diversity should also mean diverse casting, including making sure men and women get to work on brands and categories that are typically / traditionally associated with the opposite gender.
8. Sarah Roebuck, executive producer, Final Cut New York
My New Year's Resolution for the ad industry has been the same for a few years: hire more women to direct and edit spots for products whose audience is women! It feels like it should be a no-brainer but we still see so many projects with exclusively male director/editor teams. That seems out of touch, especially when you consider the purchasing power of women. Let’s balance it out a bit and get more ladies in the mix!
One of my favourite campaigns we've worked on is the Love by GapBody campaign. The agency, Shebang, is female-owned and operated, the director and DP were both women, as was our editor, Ashley Kreamer, and audio engineer, T. Terressa Tate. The spots were all about...WOMEN! Real, talented, beautiful women.
I'm also very proud of Betty Cameron, one of our VFX artists at Significant Others, who has relocated from NYC to LA to spearhead Significant Others on the west coast. Betty is one of the most imaginative and creative people I know and I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings her way.
It's a new year, people. Be kind to yourselves. Be kind to your neighbour. And let’s make sure our collaborators look like the vibrant, diverse world we all live in.
9. Sarita d’Avignon, executive producer, Significant Others Los Angeles
I think there’s a lot to look forward to in 2019! VFX artist Betty Cameron just joined us here in LA, at the west coast office of Significant Others. She’s super rad and we’re looking forward to sharing her talents with the west coast.
I have to mention ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’, Barry Jenkins’ incredible film. This is our second collaboration with him (the first was ‘Moonlight’), and we are thrilled to be seeing the response to the film, both by fans and friends as well as the awards shows. Regina King winning the Golden Globe lit us up on many levels. On this note, a personal goal I have is to champion women’s creativity in 2019. Here’s a call out to all women, there’s a place for you and your projects here.