The 5 Forces Shaping Advertising

Marketing to kids. An illustration for Forces ...

Those of us in the advertising business know the industry is undergoing a transformation. There is a blurring of lines among advertising, digital,  and management consulting. Traditional folks are trying to be more digital, digital folks are trying to be more traditional, and management consulting folks are looking to upend the industry. All the while, new entrants are testing, learning and trying out new business models.

Agency evolution is “inextricably tied” to an evolving and complex digital landscape. It is no longer black and white. It is getting harder and harder to parse out digital and non-digital work. As complexity rises, brands are bringing on more and more agencies who are expected to collaborate. Things are certainly getting more confusing. Yet, at the end of the day there are 5 forces shaping advertising. Focusing on these 5 forces can help organizations navigate the turbulence.

What are the 5 forces?

  1. An evolving & complex digital landscape
  2. Consumer control & empowerment
  3. Technology growth & proliferation
  4. An expectation for marketing to have a positive  impact on the bottom line
  5. A shift from making campaigns that are one and done to making experiences that live on – and are fueled by consumers and social interactions
McKinsey summed it up well when they said, “At the end of the day, customers no longer separate marketing from the product—it is the product…They don’t separate marketing from their in-store or online experience—it is the experience. ..In the era of engagement, marketing is the company.”  You don’t need to look any further than Nike Plus or American Express’ Link, Like, Love to see the tides turning.  With Nike Plus, Nike created a first-ever platform of digitally infused products that helps track activities, set personal goals, improve performance, find routes, challenge friends, and share success. Nike blurred the boundaries of marketing and business by creating an offering that was digital at its core. American Express did the same with Link, Like, Love – a first-ever platform to deliver deals, access, and experiences based on Cardmember “Likes” and interests. American Express blurred the boundaries by creating an offering that spans marketing, customer service, product, and social.

There are lots of things that need to change about how business is done in order to reap the benefits of Nike and American Express. The most important thing that needs to be changed is how we think about leadership. Leaders of organizations must embrace a new construct of leadership – namely creative leadership. The book,  The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner, is one of my favorite sources of inspiration when it comes to a creative leadership mindset. The authors detail the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership as follows:

Practices Description
Model the Way
  • Sets a good example for what he or she believes in
  • Clarifies and shares values
  • Builds agreement around ‘common principles and common ideals’
  • Puts forth relentless effort, steadfastness, competence, and attention to detail
Inspire a shared vision
  • Shares visions and dreams of what could be for the organization
  • Has the ability to make something extraordinary happen
  • Enlists others in a common vision
  • Breathes life into the hopes and dreams of others
  • Inspires others through his or her enthusiasm
Challenge the process
  • Seeks to change the status quo; to challenge the process
  • Adopts a pioneering attitude
  • Listens more than tells
  • Looks outside of himself or herself and the organization for new ideas
  • Creates a climate for experimentation
  • Takes risks (tries, fails, learns)
Enable others to act
  • Builds teams based on solid trust and strong relationships
  • Fosters collaboration
  • Makes it possible for others to do good work
Encourage the heart
  • Demonstrates genuine acts of caring
  • Recognizes contributions
  • Shows appreciation
  • Builds a strong sense of collective identity and community spirit

Using these practices, organizations can navigate the complexity and change brought on by the forces shaping advertising. It is clear a transformation is underway. Though none of us yet knows whether advertising agencies, digital agencies, management consultancies, or new entrants will win, Nike and American Express make a case for building creative leadership skills. After all, it took new ways of thinking and leading to break down the organizational silos, working through the cultural barriers, and rethink the role of marketing in order to bring Nike Plus and Link, Like, Love to fruition.

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One Response to The 5 Forces Shaping Advertising

  1. Pat says:

    When I was reading the “Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership” I kept picturing Rob Lowe’s character Park & Recreation.

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