Campaign podcast: Instagram turns 10 and Byron Sharp's Covid-19 marketing warnings

Omar Oakes and Jeremy Lee reflect on Byron Sharp's criticism of brands rushing to advertise during the pandemic and journalist and author Sarah Frier discusses how Instagram has evolved.

Sarah Frier, this week's podcast guest, and Byron Sharp
Sarah Frier, this week's podcast guest, and Byron Sharp

It's a double-header of 10-year anniversaries this week. Omar Oakes and Jeremy Lee discuss Byron Sharp's recent Campaign interview, in which he criticised the "embarrassing arrogance" of marketers that would think people were interested in what they had to say about the coronavirus. Sharp's seminal marketing text How Brands Grow was published in 2010.

Sarah Frier, the Bloomberg News reporter, wrote a book about Instagram recently and reveals how the globally popular social media brand has evolved and its founders have struggled to retain control since being acquired by Facebook in 2012, just two years after launching in October 2010.

"Instagram is this incredible force in our culture, in our lives, and we know so little about what happened after being acquired by Facebook," Frier said, having relied on insider accounts to tell a story of how Instagram's co-founders were intent on keeping the platform simple despite Facebook's demands to increase engagement or take on challenger platforms like Snapchat and TikTok with new features.

She recalled: "When Instagram took on Snapchat and created Stories, that was a fierce debate internally. People thought: ‘Why doesn’t [co-founder] Kevin Systrom get it that it’s important that we build something like this, because people are facing too much pressure on Instagram to have a beautiful perfect life and that’s bad for business because they’re posting less.'"

Now Instagram is doing the same with Reels as a response to the growing popularity of Tiktok, Frier explained: "What Mark Zuckerberg is trying to do with Instagram and Reels is solving a business problem as opposed to a solving a user problem and this is something that’s really frustrating to employees at Instagram who talk to me."

Running order:

1:24 - Byron Sharp
7:15 - Elvis joins growing list of agencies leaving the office
11:00 - Interview with Sarah Frier: Instagram at 10 and what's next
38:55 - Ads review: John Lewis Home, Mercedes-Benz, and Nokia.

This episode was hosted by Omar Oakes and produced by Ben Londesbrough.

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