Perspectives - Scott Oxford, at New Word Order - All the rules have changed

By AdNews | 21 December 2021
Scott Oxford.

AdNews is following the WFH Diaries with a series of Perspectives, asking two questions: What did you learn in 2021 and what are you looking forward to in 2022? We've also encouraged the industry to glam, dress for the best, and face next year with optimism.

Scott Oxford, Head of Strategy and Creative Partner – New Word Order:

What a relief it was to see decision makers commit to reinstating their marketing budgets, turn their focus to brand and everyone everywhere make a solid step forward their understanding of mental health, its equivalence to physical health in importance, and a great big dose of grace knowing we were all feeling the obvious and insidious impact of living and working in varying states of lockdown and operating in markets navigating the results. While we banished the term ‘new normal’ from our vernacular, we also found a normalisation of the shifting sands and settled into flexible work more fully and rewrote the rulebook and how we do what we do. I’m looking forward to rediscovering face to face relationships more, flexing these refreshed blue sky thinking muscles, telling bigger and braver stories and seeing brands embrace bold thinking like never before.  I believe these are just some of what I like to call the gifts of COVID.  Optimism is key to 2022 being amazing.

What was the biggest challenge of 2021?

It’s a toss-up between the tyranny/blessing of video calling, the shift in talent mentality and the sheer shortage of talent.  As the world has discovered work/life balance, more high calibre people are choosing to work differently and this is impacting the traditional full time employment situation but also keeping great people from great work as they sometimes choose less rewarding work for more rewarding life balance. Resourcing has become more and more difficult and it’s well documented we are in the midst of a talent crisis with constant talk of the ‘great resignation’ suggesting 2022 will become even more fluid.  We’ve genuinely found amazing people choosing to decline work they know they’ll smash and love because they ‘know they’d fully commit’ and their new perspective doesn’t have room for that much commitment to a job. I get it but it’s bloody hard to watch, as happy as I am for anyone who is crafting a better life for themselves.

What did you learn?

Business development has changed, with office location less of an issue than it once was, but ultimately still a sticking point.  Getting things over the line has been hard and I think I’ve learned that all the rules have actually changed and in the same way humans are rethinking how they work and their once dearly held career aspirations, businesses and organisations will continue to rethink how they spend on brand, marketing and communications and this means we have to be more nimble and flexible in our thinking and work than ever before.  The game has changed, in subtle and in sledgehammer ways and the old adage of ‘change or die’ has never been more true.

What are you looking forward to in 2022? 

I feel like a post vax world will only lead to more optimism and a ‘rebuild bigger and better’ mentality and this is going to be exciting for us as an agency that spends at least half our efforts on helping brands do exactly this.  But our other remit is behaviour change and in a world that has had so much change forced upon us, and major new decisions to make on our behaviours, it will be fascinating to see how we refocus on more day-to-day change, in the preventative health space particularly which has seen its biggest few years in the spotlight, dominated by the pandemic we are all so tired of discussing.

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