Having a purpose is now more important than ever
A view from Maisie McCabe

Having a purpose is now more important than ever

Who are your heroes? In the first of a new series, the BMB chairman and founder, Trevor Beattie, entertainingly talks about his relationship with Muhammad Ali on page 26. Contrary to received wisdom, Beattie's dinner with The Greatest seems to have lived up to all his expectations.

The adman and burgeoning film producer says the boxer has inspired the way he deals with the world – to the extent that his first yellow Pencil sits at the bottom of the Thames.

Lots of the discourse around advertising and marketing over the past year has centred on the importance of having a purpose. The Independent was always very clear about its own. Unfortunately, as Gideon Spanier eloquently explains on page 23, having a reason for being is not enough. Amid plummeting print ad revenues and with a tasty offer for i on the table, the Lebedevs finally decided something needed to change last week. Spanier suggests the press industry needs to embrace more change and – dare we say it – collaborate to survive.

Having a purpose stretches how you're structured, what work you go after and who you partner with

It’s all very well having fire in your belly and bags of expertise but, unfortunately, they count for naught if there isn’t a bottomless pocket to prop up your lack of profit. It’s the same when it comes to agencies.

The fact that creative work needs to sell the products it’s advertising isn’t a radical proposition. Yet, of the 210 golds awarded at Cannes last year, just 17 campaigns also got an Effie for effectiveness (see page 14). That’s up 42 per cent from the previous two years, but it still feels like there is room to improve.

Of course, having a purpose doesn’t have to be restricted to what you do for your clients. It also stretches to how you’re structured, what work you go after and who you partner with. This week, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO has followed Maxus in opening a consultancy arm to go after the lunch of the management consultants (page 8). After all, they’re already eating ours. As reported on our front page, The Brooklyn Brothers has gone for the bolder move of selling to a PR company, Golin, in an estimated £35 million deal.

John Billett, the veteran media auditor, questions the purpose of the recent TV trading deal between Channel 4 and Group M in a letter to the broadcaster’s chairman. We have an in-depth piece examining the growing world of programme finance on page 24. It’s a complex issue and no doubt one that we will return to in the future.

None of us can aim to inspire on the level of Ali. But, perhaps by clarifying our reason for doing what we do, we can at least bring our colleagues and clients along with us.