We need to make marketing fun again

The reason I enrolled in journalism school after university, as opposed to, say, law, came down to a preference for doing what I love over making money.

The reason I enrolled in journalism school after university, as opposed to, say, law, came down to a preference for doing what I love over making money.

Perhaps some of you felt similarly when you decided on a career in marketing. Here was an industry where you could flex your creative muscles every so often. Okay, so you may have had to spend your daylight hours in an office tower – and your actual job and formal attire might have looked drab next to that of your agency creatives and their ripped jeans – but at least it was a far cry from accounting. Plus, if you were really good, you could brag to your pals about how you worked on that hilarious spot that ran during Hockey Night in Canada, and hopefully you’d be well compensated for your efforts.

In a frank conversation with the panelists of this issue’s roundtable, though, the overall consensus was that bright young minds are no longer drawn to the marketing industry. (See Biz, page 11.) The discussion, which happened over nibblies after the recorder was turned off, was rather dismal.

In fact, former Cadbury VP marketing and strategy columnist John Bradley says he simply wouldn’t go into the field if he had to make that choice today. The reason? Due to increasing stress on the marketing department to prove ROI, the job just isn’t as fun any more. Everybody’s too busy defending their turf to higher-ups, bogged down in research, and ‘planning how to cut budgets,’ instead of focusing on an external exchange with the consumer. ‘Plus,’ he adds, ‘power of the retailer takes too much time and effort away from thinking about the consumer.’

So why bother? You might as well go into finance, if you’re going to be buried in spreadsheets either way.

If this is true, then it goes without saying: The industry needs to reverse this trend. Media continues to fragment, and organizations must figure out how to transcend their messages via a plethora of newbie channels.

Thankfully, the best media agencies – those that are celebrated in these pages, as well as mavens like Media Director of the Year Sunni Boot – are constantly finding new ways to do just that.

They need solid partners though, which is why at the client level, future thought leaders – who know how to use said non-traditional channels – must also be on board. Somehow marketing needs to be exciting again.

Lisa D’Innocenzo, Editor