Speaking during the last session of a packed Media 360 two-day conference, Jem Lloyd-Williams' thoughts summed up the overall sentiment of the panel on "Navigating Stormy Waters – How to tackle uncertainty?".
"I’m tired of talking about a perception that if we’re not careful will become a reality no one wants. It’s just not that important," he said. "We should focus on doing good work with good people."
Lloyd-WIlliams was joined on stage by Debbie Klein, chief executive, Engine Europe and Asia-Pacific and moderator, Adrian Barrick: global brand director, Campaign.
"Syl Saller (Diageo's chief marketing and innovation officer) sparked this discussion. She said, 'Brands must choose to make the world a better place or risk becoming irrelevant'," Barrick said.
It speaks to the growing importance of what is referred to in sustainable business reporting as the triple bottom line, Klein said. "Brands like Patagonia and Unilever get this and have altered or structured their business sustainably before going out and marketing it. Brands like Pepsi, and Budweiser at the Super Bowl, got it wrong."
McDonald's chief marketing officer, Alistair Macrow, provided a "masterclass" in building a brand with purpose during his talk at Media 360 yesterday, Lloyd-Williams said. "What's fascinating is that it took them so many years. Marketing was the last thing they did. They knew they had to get the business right before they invited clients in."
What really matters to the industry, what truly keeps Klein awake at night, is talent. "We rely on attracting our unfair share of best and brightest. Speaking from the UK perspective, other countries are aggressively building tech and creative hubs. Singapore offers tax breaks, Amsterdam is saying we’re coming after your talent and we will incentivise it... you're starting to see people move out."
Anything that makes it less attractive to work in the UK marketing services industry is a bad thing, Lloyd-Williams agreed. "There are people here in this room wondering if they are allowed to stay. Horrible."
Navigating through the current political climate will hinge on strong communication from leaders, Klein said. "Communicate, communicate, communicate. People want to know where they're going and how their leader is going to get them there."
And within the leadership, concluded Lloyd-Williams, it's important to check in with each other on a regular basis. "It sounds really simple, but if you do that on a regular basis everyone knows what they should be doing and what they’re responsible for and things will stay on track."