What’s next?

Consumers are exposed to over 4,000 messages a day. What are you going to do about it?

Consumers are exposed to over 4,000 messages a day. What are you going to do about it?

Sharing his philosophy for coping, Hugh Dow, president of M2 Universal, strategy’s Media Agency of the Year (yes, again), is quoted this issue as saying: ‘Always take it to the next level, because last year’s, last month’s and last week’s media activities are no good today.’

Remove the word ‘media’ and insert whatever marketing activity is currently on your plate, and it will ring just as true.

And that sentiment, in a nutshell, was the gist of most of the presentations I heard in NYC during Advertising Week, and at our own Media In Canada Forum last month here in Toronto.

So, in answer to the Forum’s theme ‘What’s the plan?’, I’ll share a few pointers gleaned from my marathon of confabs over the past few weeks.

At the MIC Forum, the crowd of about 400 heard keynoter David Verklin, the New York-based CEO of Carat Americas, identify major trends in media to watch for. The first is the ascendancy of digital as a primary motivator functioning in a DM-style role. Verklin noted Carat had observed that ’80% of people going into a Hyundai dealership had been online first,’ and predicts that while online creative work is rarely discussed, ‘it will be the centre play.’ Prediction #2: ‘Advertising to the interested is the future.’ Verklin says firms will experiment with 100% composition technology, where marketers are looking not at simple CPM numbers but at targeting their bull’s-eye. TV commercials will be a portal, the beginning of a process, where the consumer will push a button to get expanded information. Thirdly, Verklin foresees a collision of commerce and cause where marketers will combine their efforts with philanthropy, creating a new, and hybrid medium.

The closing presentation, a high-energy dose of insight into the new consumer from Toronto-based Capital C president Tony Chapman, ended with a call to action. Chapman, concerned with the brain and control drain from our market to U.S. HQs, inspired the audience to fight the trend. ‘We all have to get the best insights on our consumers, and say we need a whole new strategy to go to market. We have to be the country, the industry, that stands together and proves that we can collaborate – the age of push marketing is over.’

The realization that the consumer is in control – and how to deal with that – also came up at Ad Week. A lot.

At Forecast 2006, MediaPost’s annual confab, Chicago-based Jack Klues, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, encouraged marketers to focus on contact, not the gadgets, and shared the Publicis Re-Imagine mantra: Do things better. Do things differently. Do different things.

To truly lead in the new media landscape Klues advised to revere experience, but also stressed the importance of encouraging whippersnappers to attack your ideas, adding that SMG is looking to put together a junior board of directors, and retooling recruitment to attract original thinkers from different areas.

The quest for big ideas, and how to hatch them, is also the focus of strategy’s next big undertaking. Our Agency of the Year Awards and ‘stimulant,’ our first annual creative forum, happens Dec. 7 in Toronto. We’re currently rounding up the folks behind the best ideas in advertising so they can share their methodology (or madness, as the case may be.) And as to who will take the stage to collect AOY honours, that’s currently before the jury.

I can share who is on the AOY shortlist this year. Your peers voted, and nine of the 10 finalists are returning from 2004. They are: Bos, DDB, Downtown Partners, Diesel, Grip, Lowe Roche, Rethink, three-time defending champ Taxi and Zig. BBDO also snagged a spot in the top 10.

In other news, we’ve also been busily identifying talent within our own ranks, and are pleased to announce that Natalia Williams has been promoted to strategy’s special reports editor. Congrats to Natalia and all our Media Agency of the Year winners who took the stage at the MIC Forum and whose accomplishments grace the pages of her inaugural special report.