Another year end, and like many of you I’m scratching my head as to how it came around so fast. Looking back over the past 12 months there have been some fundamental shifts with far-reaching consequences.
Celebrity deaths of David Bowie and Prince shock us culturally. And of course what shocked many in our liberal, left leaning industry, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. As we went to press with The Annual Cuba’s Fidel Castro had died.
There is fundamental change ahead in all corners of the globe.
Closer to home in media, marketing and advertising is the continued dominance of transparency and revelations it is still severely lacking in many areas, plus errors and misreporting have plagued digital platforms.
This year has also seen a vocal backlash emerge, led in part by professor Mark Ritson, against digital and short-term tactical work. That is evident in the themes emerging from the top marketers featured in the AdNews annual photoshoot this year.
We've again got a cross section of marketers from blue chip corporate organisations such as ANZ Bank and Diageo as well as challengers and startups such as Deliveroo and Pandora, alongside marketers from the arts such as Sydney Opera House, to cast a broad net of perspectives.
The theme this year was broad. Simply: 'discuss'.
I asked the marketers in the photo essay series to write about 'elephant in the room' topics. The taboo subjects that are a concern, and get talked around, but never fully addressed. What in their businesses are the friction points, the bones of contention? Where do they see the industry going to hell in a hand basket?
The photoshoot aimed to capture the heated conversation and boisterous discussion of topics that only emerge in the aftermath of a dinner party. The equivalents of politics, religion and sex in marketing and advertising. And boy, did it deliver.
What cropped up was a sentiment that marketing has gone too far down the path of data and digital. That marketers have lost the ability to trust their instincts and businesses feel unable to support a strategy or direction that isn't backed up by data. While data is a great enabler it is also becoming a cumbersome burden, a barrier to bravery and bold ideas, two things that are at the crux of good, creative marketing and in turn drivers of strong businesses.
Don't be surprised if these topics are the ones that dominate the agenda in 2017. Look out for some of them online in January.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Annual, the December edition of AdNews in print. You can purchase a digital version here, or subscribe so you don't miss out on anything in print in 2017. None of the content from our print editions is available online – so if you don't subscribe – you're missing out.