Let's ditch the self-doubt and ignore Kevin Roberts
A view from Claire Beale

Let's ditch the self-doubt and ignore Kevin Roberts

I wasn’t going to mention it, because I don’t think it does any of us any favours, but it keeps nagging away at me. Did you read the interview that Saatchi & Saatchi’s chairman, Kevin Roberts, gave to The Guardian the other week?

In case you missed it, here are some choice quotes. The author writes: "Roberts is just about the most positive man in adland. Business is now all about creating a ‘movement’ of people with shared values, he enthuses from his suite at London’s luxurious Bulgari Hotel, without even a hint of a smirk."

And then comes a quote from Roberts himself: "You do that [create a movement] by figuring out how you add mystery, sensuality and intimacy to a brand... Sensuality: we feel the world in five senses. Whether you like this room or not, [the architect] Antonio Citterio designed it and all five senses are at work in here. I mean, people want to lick this table."

Uncurl your toes. He’s a minority voice, right? Except that it’s a loud one, given a major media platform and eliciting the sort of abuse about advertising that you might imagine most features on the subject would attract from many Guardian readers.

Let’s hope that there won’t be many normal people listening in when the advertising industry gathers in London for Advertising Week next week. Coming together to debate important issues, be inspired and challenged plays a vital role in keeping the industry moving forward, but I suspect quite a few sessions will have a touch of the Roberts about them – at least in the level of hyperbole and jargon.

We're not entitled. We are going to have to work at it. But most important is that we work from a position of confidence

Guaranteed, there will also be the usual debilitating soul-searching that so often characterises industry debate (What’s our future? Do we even have one? The old model is dead, the current model’s dying, yada yada).

It’s not a healthy mix. Of course the ad industry’s changing – the world is changing. To all the best people in our business, that change is thrilling and full of opportunity. But there’s an appalling amount of self-criticism and self-doubt infecting the industry at a time when we should be pushing ahead with confidence in the power of creativity (in advertising, in media, in ad tech).

So Campaign is running a session at Ad Week next Tuesday about what we should all be doing to secure a healthy future for our business. Let’s face it, we’re not entitled. We are going to have to work at it, as always, but most important is that we work at it from a position of confidence and strength.

And don’t listen to Roberts when he says: "Marketing is dead. Strategy is dead. Management is dead." Changing, of course. But dead? Listen to that and we all will be.