Why leadership needs to be our industry’s most important trend in 2015

Posted 27 March 2015.

​By Andrew Reinholds, Managing Partner, OMD

​The rise of digital technology has changed the nature of media and commerce - and therefore advertising - forever.

The media landscape is now so diverse that even the definition of “media” has forever been altered. No longer defined as simple “time and space,” media has now become a meeting point that can create a conversation or close a sale, rather than simply cause an interruption.

As a result, our collective desire to be seen to be ahead of the curve has turned into an unhealthy obsession. In turn, we’ve lost focus of the bigger challenges that our industry faces.

Call me a cynic, but now whenever I read an article on the relative merits of the latest trend – be it content, social, (big) data, mobile yadda yadda yadda - I can’t help but feel that, more often than not, the trend being discussed is now used in much the same way that a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.

Which is a worry because, at a time when clients require real leadership from their agency partners to help them successfully navigate a fractured and fragmented media landscape, too often competing business models are promoting competing points of view as to what the most appropriate solution should be.

And from a client’s perspective, whose solution do you believe? If the solution is focused more on the area that agency (or any other organisation) works in, then it’s likely that the solution is going to be more for the organisation than the client.

Unfortunately a one-size fits all approach misses the point – whether it’s advocating the power of TV, because it remains so cost-efficient, or that content is king because no-one wants to watch TV ads anymore.

From a media perspective, 2015 will be the year for us to agree that there never was a need for separation of either digital or social into overnight “specialist” agencies and that all media should be considered as part of one inter-operating ecosystem.

Individual components of a modern campaign should complement each other in something close to real time, making it more important than ever to have one consolidated view across all touch points within the media ecosystem.

To achieve the real inter and intra-agency collaboration required to thrive in this dynamic and increasingly complex and connected environment, there has never been a better time to get back to basics – after all, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

A defined vision for how advertisers want to behave in the market will mean that expectations of their partners can be better managed, resulting in greater clarity for agency resourcing, so that everyone can then get on with the important task of delivering the best work in the most effective way.

Unless there is clarity around what the approach is, and the desired objective of the approach, then the process is likely to remain challenging, with diluted ideas being arrived at slowly and costing far more in time and energy than they should.

Crucially, it will also mean that we need to explore new ways of working together and new models of reward & remuneration to lay the pathway for real change. The old commission and FTE models will be reviewed with a focus on understanding whether they are actually encouraging the required partner behaviours and necessary outputs that deliver business solutions rather than simply creating more advertising.

And that’s why I hope the biggest industry trend in 2105 (and beyond) is the trend toward real, authentic, and effective leadership. Leadership that helps us look beyond our own selfishness and weaknesses to create a working environment and culture that generates better, more effective and more creative business solutions than we could achieve on our own.

There has never been a more dynamic or exciting time to be working in what was once referred to as “the advertising industry” than right now. It’s a truism that change is the only constant. But the effective management of change is all about leadership. Because while the ever increasing pace of change remains our greatest challenge, it is also our greatest opportunity – as long as we have the leadership to take maximise its potential.