It wasn’t just the adipose lamb medallions that provided the guests at the unveiling of the agenda of the new IPA president, Sarah Golding, at the Waldorf Hilton last week with some fat to chew over.
Back in December, when Golding was announced as the successor to Tom Knox – whose next move will be eagerly anticipated – there was speculation as to what her priorities would be, and given her appointment as the new IPA president coincided with her elevation to sole chief executive of CHI & Partners, the nature of her mettle. Last week we found the answer – and it’s something that could be described to embracing the likes of Metal Mickey.
Golding’s clarion call to "make magic with the machines" was a timely and well articulated entreaty for the advertising industry to embrace the potential of machine learning in order to improve creativity and brand experiences. Given that it was delivered by someone whose background is beyond the narrow self-interest of digital advertising (and look at some of the problems with attribution and fraud that has caused us) and who admitted that she too was not yet an expert in this field, it highlighted how Golding’s leadership in this field would be as much a learning process for her as everyone else. Nothing wrong with that.
The launch of several key initiatives, with witty monikers such SXSW1 and IPAi, will help demystify creative tech – which for too long has been the preserve of cabals, mystics and the occasional charlatan – for the wider ad industry, thereby shining a light on bad or sloppy practice and hopefully banishing it forever. Agencies and marketers alike should welcome this (the private reaction of some media owners who have got away with it for too long might be rather more muted).
Given this, it’s little wonder that data has had a bad name – something that has led to one prominent group chief strategy officer raging against these same machines. Adam & Eve/DDB’s David Golding – for it is he – wrote a powerful and provocative piece in Campaign earlier this year that claimed that the ad industry will soon split into those that take creative risks to create culture (like his multiple award-winning and Campaign Agency of the Year shop) and those that will just use data to "create collateral". What a different vision to that of Sarah Golding.
In fact, Sarah Golding has powerfully laid out an agenda that suggests that the two are not mutually exclusive. She thinks that data can be "creatively inspiring, culturally disruptive and commercially impactful", whereas David Golding said that it merely moves people along the customer journey. While I’m sure it’s not the subject of much debate or discord around their house, wouldn’t it be fun to see them debate it on a panel?