Perspective: After a great 30 years it's an uncertain future that lies ahead for the industry

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CB_LOGO_RGB_low.jpgFrom Campaign Brief WA's August issue.

Campaign Brief turned 30 in June, which we highlighted online over the 30 days of the month. It was a real trip down memory lane as we remembered some great ads and great people we have seen, heard and known over the past three decades in Perth.

Inevitably that also leads to some reflection on what has changed over that time. Truthfully, I think there has been more change in the last five years than in the previous twenty-five.

It is undoubtedly a more professional and accountable industry now. The best work from Perth can compete nationally and sometimes internationally (although Cannes was largely a bust for us this year) but the work in general seems not quite as interesting overall. In this (August) issue we pay tribute to legendary copywriter David Abbott, who passed away in May. Campaign Brief Publisher, Kim Shaw, was lucky enough to spend three days with Abbott when he visited Perth in 1987. Something he told Kim about settling for average work echoes today.
But creatives aren't setting the agenda quite so much nowadays. I still think they're the most important people in the industry because it is their ideas that can make the biggest difference but for some reason they seem to be getting marginalised. I'm not sure who is taking their place - I used to think it was strategists but maybe it's the technologists. Or perhaps the data analysts!

I saw a presentation recently where reference was made to WPP Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell's view that within 5 years his group's revenue split will be 40/40/20 - that's 40% digital, 40% data and 20% 'other'. Agencies as we know them are typically geared to delivering the 'other'.

Which leads to another noticeable recent change.

The trend towards to digital marketing based on proprietary data means clients are developing in-house teams to manage information and respond quickly. Integrating insights from the data they collect with product delivery is increasingly the core of their marketing effort. It's only when they need to top up their awareness or launch a new initiative they'll use their agency. The upshot is that agencies' work is becoming much more project based, as opposed to ongoing campaigns.

That's difficult for agencies to budget for and resource accordingly, hence we're seeing greater use of contractors and freelancers.

There are pros and cons to that - continuity versus flexibility, for example - but it's not going to change any time soon. And it's not as if advertising is alone in this regard; it's a trend being experienced in many industries and I'm sure ours will adapt as it has always done. Not for the better or worse - just different.

One thing our review of the people we reckon have shaped the industry and us over the past 30 years did highlight was a vacuum of leadership currently. I've been noticing this develop for a few years now. I'm just not sure where the next generation of industry leaders is going to come from. Many of the best and brightest seem to head interstate or overseas nowadays, whereas once they'd stay and build their careers here.

We have been very fortunate to know some brilliant people over our 30 years. Charismatic, big personalities that made the industry seem a lot more important than it probably was. Today it almost seems the reverse. An insular, 'head-down' attitude can sometimes make it seem less important than it actually is.

Don't get me wrong, I know there are some but we need more people who will stand up and be counted; who will speak out intelligently and credibly on issues, give the industry a profile and present it as an attractive, dynamic one to be part of. That's what will secure its future.

Martin Trevaskis
Editor - Campaign Brief WA

3 Comments

Andrew Tinning said:

Well said (and written) Martin.

Adam B said:

Nice job Martin. So many good observations.

Here's to the crazy ones. said:

The Perth industry has become one of comparisons when it could be an example. And while management (not necessarily leaders) profess that change is welcome, the fear of loss maintains the status quo. Regarding leadership, it's a timely question Martin and well worth asking. Great article.

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