Forward Thinking

It seems strange to be writing about the future, and forward-thinking, at a time when brands and business seem to be more obsessed than ever with the present. There’s an economic imperative, of course, as the corporate world wants better results today (if not yesterday). But there’s also massive consumer pressure. If consumers are ‘always on’, they expect brands to be too. Hence the rise of real-time marketing and the idea that – not just on social media – brands can react to topical events and trends in an instant.

So far, so good. But the paradox, of course, is that, to react in real time (or, in most cases, near-real time), you need to plan ahead. Think back to Samsung’s reactions to stories about the propensity of Apple’s much-heralded iPhone 6 Plus to bend. A quick-off-the-mark response relies on a focused social-media ‘war room’, but there must have been some thorough planning and contingency plans in place, to say the least.

So, to reinforce this point, we’ve talked to one of the brands of the moment, taxi-hire app Uber, to see how even brands that are part of a new market, where the next five minutes are difficult to predict, can plan ahead. Stephanie Smart, head of marketing for Uber London, tells all.

For me, when I think of a story, it calls to mind past events and a conclusion. Shiona McDougall at RAPP tells you why that’s not necessarily so, when we look at brands and an ongoing conversation with consumers.

And Millennial Media’s Zac Pinkham keeps us anchored by predicting some highlights for marketers in 2015. Personal planning is just as important, of course.

So, please, join us in thinking ahead. It will make the present a much better place to be.


Philip Smith
Head of content solutions and studio at Marketing and Haymarket Brand Republic Group