Shift to strategy-led creative agencies

BOOMTOWN chairman and founder Neil Hart shares his thoughts on the future of marketing.

In 2010 the International IBM chief executive survey came out with a surprise finding: that creativity was the number one characteristic businesses looked for in their leadership. That is a big deal. As the advertising industry we quickly get excited about that, but it is not the same thing we punt every day, putting our 20-something trained creatives at the front of the pitch. Creativity in the future of marketing and advertising is a far more intelligent form of creativity. If I had to let our industry down for a moment with one comment it would be this: our level of creativity is myopically focused on communication, and specific only communication channels that we are "okay" with. We are okay with TV, press, radio etc. We are okay with design as communication, and very recently we became okay with digital platforms as communication. But are we okay with creativity for new business directions, expanded product offerings, accessing data to uncover deep customer insights that lead to innovation? Are we okay with creativity for technology, creativity for HR, creativity for leadership matters, creativity for biofuels?

These latter forms of creativity need one thing that we are so reticent to do: think outside of our paradigms. Creative people do not like to think outside of their creative boxes. That may sound like a contradiction of terms but it's so real.

So here is the kicker – can our highly gifted creative people in the advertising industry start to stretch their ability into new realms, because this is what business needs today and into the future. Let's call it multi-industry creativity. I believe that the ad industry has the best grouping of employees to solve some of business's biggest challenges, if only we will be bold enough to tackle them, smart enough to learn again and crazy enough to tack the forefront of where our 21st-century marketplace is headed. Strategically-led companies

Since the beginning, our types of companies have been led by creative minds. We have not highly prized strategists until five or so years ago.

Here is the change heading into the next 40 years: we will see more and more strategic-led agencies and eventually we will breed strategists who love and value creativity.