Geoff Craig: Marketing with purpose, media with meaning

In thinking about the future, one has to start by thinking about the past, which is officially today. Today is all about the high oil prices that have caused a seismic shift in our attitudes and behaviours around everything from public transit to selling the cottage.

By Geoff Craig, VP & GM brand building, Unilever Canada, Toronto

In thinking about the future, one has to start by thinking about the past, which is officially today. Today is all about the high oil prices that have caused a seismic shift in our attitudes and behaviours around everything from public transit to selling the cottage.

The only thing that is exponentially worse than the price of gas is the continuously plummeting value of television media dollars. These poor-value days of forced intrusion will come to an end as consumer control of devices such as the commercial-zapping PVR remote and the brand new, utility-rich iPhone are combined with endless available content (mostly free), and a new generation of marketers born of the digital age takes the reins.

Fortunately, we will remain a consumption-based society, and therefore the challenge will remain where and how to spend our dollars. We are also a society of communities becoming increasingly enveloped by purpose and meaning. For me to bang the meaningful experience drum isn’t new; while none of us plans meaningless communication, beware, because continuing to spew irrelevance today will lead to obsolescence tomorrow.

We will need to develop deep, emotional, personal connections by being conversation cultivators. Consumers will seek purposeful engagement with our brands as we become educators, entertainers, agoras of social interaction, repositories of their creative expression and both enablers and validators of their most prized accomplishments. They will actively choose to engage with us because, as the new Chauncey Gardners of marketing, we quite simply will help them get more out of life. (Hint: follow Nike to this promised land!)

So the next outstanding question is: where will we spend our dollars?

Truthfully, other than making the perfect-world prediction that kick-ass ROI tools driving maximum return with minimal risk will be rampant in the digital sphere, the future is far too unpredictable to prognosticate tomorrow’s media mix. I do know that I will have a mobile device that is fully customized, joyous to use and truly makes my life better by acting as treasury for all that matters and is significant to my being. It gives the familiar marketing strategy of penetration an entirely different meaning. Clients and agencies will have retooled to get there, and will do so perpetually as creativity will both rule and be a survival requisite in all aspects of business and within every role.

Geoff’s pick: Google

I admit, I love Google. Google will rule the world, and I want to work there right now (but so does everybody). If you are not ‘Googley,’ go to their Corporate Information page and click Design Experiences. As you bathe in their aspirations and design principles, you will understand why Google will continue to be an amazing and profitable change agent. They will continue to wow, and we should all adopt many of their principles for both business and perhaps even as part of our own personas.

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