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How to Save Advertising (And Create a Better World)


The Comms lab set to launch new report that redefines the role of the advertising industry

How to Save Advertising (And Create a Better World)

On June 18th, the Comms Lab will launch ‘Reclaiming Agency: How to Save Advertising (and create a better world)’ a groundbreaking new report that redefines the role of the advertising industry.

This is the first report from the Comms Lab, a new organization set up by ex-ad man Jonathan Wise and anthropologist Ella Saltmarshe to maximise the positive contribution of the advertising industry.

The authors interviewed industry leaders including; Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman, Ogilvy UK, Jim Carroll, ex-Chairman, BBH, Robert Jones, Head of New Thinking, Wolff Olins, Laurence Green, Founding Partner, 101, David Abraham, CEO, Channel 4, Jonathan Trimble, CEO, 18 Feet & Rising, Jon Steel, WPP Group Planning Director, James Best, CAP Chairman & ex-Chairman DDB and Jane Lingham, Director, BBC Brand. These interviews revealed that the advertising industry is failing to address the most pressing issues of the day, both in terms of the health of the sector and the wider health of society and concluded that as an industry, advertising is becoming less relevant and less powerful.

To understand how to tackle this problem, the Comms Lab investigated the history and evolution of the industry, analysed wider global trends and mapped the early signals of change, bringing all the data together under the watchful eye of complexity expert Dr Orit Gal and her team at Regent’s University, London.

Reclaiming Agency points a way forward. It uncovers the strategic feasibility of something the authors call The Purpose Turn; of the advertising industry defining and embodying the positive impact it seeks to have in the world. Their research has revealed that moving from a strategy based on moral neutrality to a strategy based on purpose will be a win-win situation for our industry and society.

Ella Saltmarshe comments, “If the industry is going to tackle the enormous challenges it faces as a sector it needs to redefine its role in the world, and the world needs the power of the advertising industry to tackle the enormous challenges of our time like climate change, poverty and resource scarcity.”

The report is split into four sections. Looking Down focuses on the trends eroding the strength of the industry through three key interfaces; talent, the changing client/agency relationship and the shifting industry structure. Looking Up shows key cultural, political, economic and technological shifts in the wider world that are creating an enabling environment for the purpose turn. Looking Out maps the green-shoots of change already happening in the industry and Looking In shows our next steps as an industry, as agencies and as individuals, to take the purpose turn.

“It is clear that many are realising that having a clearly articulated purpose is the route to both creating a long-term value and addressing the major global issues we face, from resource scarcity, to climate change, to poverty. Our report should spark this discussion within agencies who want to align with their clients needs and become ultimately more purposeful,” commented Jonathan Wise.

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