Three Ways the World Could Be

By Sander Volten, Global CEO, 180 network

Optimism, properly channeled, is a powerful catalyst for change. And if you can retain your sense of optimism even amidst a pandemic, you possess a marketer’s most essential quality.

The challenging times we find ourselves in are a test for humanity, and will persist a while longer. But with the vaccine rollout gaining momentum and the economic outlook improving, we are starting to see some hopeful signs. Now is our opportunity to envision what could be, and what it means for the advertising industry and our clients.

Here are three ways I see our industry reimagining the way we organize, collaborate, and solve.

From the office to the clubhouse

The future of creativity as a global ecosystem is flat, fast, and connected. And it starts with a reimagination of the office. We envision our hubs in Amsterdam, New York, Los Angeles and Dubai, for example, as clubhouses – fashioned after the famous sports and cultural clubhouses of the Netherlands where families and communities gather to connect and spend time. Any employee, anywhere in the world, can join either in person or virtually to contribute. By reframing the concept of space in a way that transcends every conventional notion of what an office used to be, we can achieve new levels of connection and inspiration.

From proprietary process to proprietary mindset

In the past, it might have made sense to achieve results for clients by perfecting a process and applying it rigorously. But the client needs today are far more complex, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The solution is to organize around a client’s problem, or problems, and keep building from there. What that looks like in practice means not only having the right people around the table but having the ability to quickly build the right mechanisms to serve the client.

One way we’re doing this is through pop-up offices, tapping into a fresh perspective from anywhere around the world. Pop-ups are a familiar retail concept. In advertising, they can facilitate a new, more dynamic way of working – one that serves both the client’s and the talent’s new expectations around work, promoting radical collaboration and instant adaptability as client needs change.

From product message to community value

It’s impossible for a modern brand to succeed if it doesn’t have a way to build ever-deeper human connections. The challenge for marketers and agencies, more and more, is to put the audience first, instead of the product. People want and need to build things – things that last, things that matter – and to feel a sense of belonging.

Brands should see this as an opportunity to respond in ways that demonstrate their understanding of the audience and that are true to their own purpose and rationale. A more humanistic, audience-centered approach to advertising is the cure for commoditization. It’s the way to build and strengthen thriving brand communities based on shared passions and interests.

A bold future

Over the past year, despite the pandemic (and also because of it) we’ve had to push technology to its limits to help brands continue to share their stories with the world. If we’re being honest, we know we’re never going back to the same realities that we once knew. But a bold future requires bold acts, a willingness to see and create the world as it could be. And the future we are creating for the advertising industry can and should be bolder than anything we’ve ever imagined.