What adland is most looking forward to in a post-COVID 2022

With 2022 looking like the first year in several that an easing of COVID restrictions will - hopefully - be permanent, Mumbrella asked a range of people across advertising what they were most looking forward to next year.

AnalogFolk partner and managing director Matt Robinson says:

Given that we’ve been unable to see so many of our clients around Australia, my first thought is human connection. But that’s a bit too universal, so I’ll be more specific.

What I’m looking forward to the most is the fun, laughter, and excitement that comes from being able to connect with people properly. The type of fun that you just can’t replicate with some Zoom trivia.

Whether that’s meeting with clients face-to-face and being able to share in the good times of making great work. or feeling the sparks of creativity and excitement that comes from collaboration, finding innovative new ideas, and solving difficult challenges.

And more broadly, I hope that as an industry our work shifts away from the seriousness we’ve had to endure over the last two years. Let’s create work that is more fun, with more comedy, and more ideas that raise a serious laugh for people – God knows we all need it!

Bastion Experience CEO Matt McCann says:

If we can replicate how we’re finishing the year, it’s going to be an amazing 2022 for the whole industry and something we as an industry are so thankful for. The buzz across all of the agencies, clients and partners has been incredible, so I look forward to this positivity continuing for everyone. We all deserve it.

As an industry, we’ve constantly evolved over the last two years to find new ways to stay connected and inspired and now we have the chance to bring that all to life with the best of real life experiences. What’s appealing is the industry has expanded its skill set as a means to survive and this only brings better experiences and ways to connect and honestly, it’s made us better marketers.

For our people and consumers, we’ve become more receptive and open to trying new things. I’m loving this sense of ‘more life for living’ attitude and this gives us a greater opportunity as an industry to push the boundaries moving forward.

The last two years have definitely brought all of our teams closer together – and yes there is a lot of movement and people have found opportunities that are more suited for their next life stage. For those who are still together, they are tighter than ever. They’ve supported each other and have a true passion to do great work.

It’s more like the great reshuffle than the great resignation. We’ve said goodbye to talented people and we couldn’t be happier for them, but we’ve also discovered some amazing new skill sets and team members, and others have grown within their current roles. It’s making us a stronger workforce.

We’ve all learnt to continue to move forward even if things change in the short term and this gives us all resilience and confidence.

Kaimera chief strategy officer Stewart Gurney says:

None of us can wait for the obvious stuff like socialising, connecting and balancing the usual work with the usual play. But what we’re most excited about is all the learning and development opportunities. Our industry is quite unique because we learn a lot of our craft by listening to our managers, watching how our leaders solve problems, or just sitting in on presentations. There’s a sort of “agency osmosis” effect that’s been hindered with COVID restrictions. A generation of grads and execs who simply haven’t had the opportunity to learn and develop from being in proximity to others and feel part of a wider agency culture. 2022 is about getting back together, learning from each other and getting people’s careers back on track.

Rumble Studios creative director and partner Tone Aston says:

Whilst Rumble has never been busier, I think we can all agree that life has become rather monotonous over the last couple of years. The initial excitement of working from home, coupled with endless Zoom meetings in our underpants has worn off. What makes Rumble tick are the people in the studio. Whether that be agencies, voice artists or session musicians we are all looking forward to the energy of having people around to collaborate with in-person.

Pre-COVID, we introduced professional development sessions where Rumble invited guests to showcase their work, ranging from Emmy Award-winning music mixers to award-winning film dialogue editors. The team is really excited to get back to furthering our creativity and technical skills.

I can speak for everyone when I say we could all do with a change of scenery. No one has been able to get a break away from the studio over the past 18 months and never has waiting in line at customs seemed so appealing. A proper holiday, whether interstate or overseas, is long overdue.

TBWA Sydney chief growth officer Nitsa Lotus says:

If ever there was an age of Disruption, we’re in it now.

Businesses are facing accelerated change; from the use of technology and systems, approach to innovation, to changes in shopping behaviour. This has collectively forced our hand to adapt better, respond quicker and be more comfortable with experimenting.

On top of this, we are now emerging from the era of Digital Transformation which means there’s additional expectation on CMOs to drive disruptive growth. This has effectively put marketing in the driver’s seat.

So, if ever there was a moment for Marketing – it is now. CEOs are expecting their marketing departments to be a growth driver for their business yet a study by McKinsey revealed that only 23% feel their marketing department can deliver on it.

Which also presents an opportunity and something I’m most excited about for 2022.

The prospect for marketing departments to create measurable and material impact to an organisation is clear. Importantly, the role of their agency is also shifting. In 2021 we ‘relearned’ the value and importance of multi-disciplinary strategic planning for upstream business and brand strategy, to brand experience and full funnel social and e-commerce planning. The ability to do this in a rigorous and systematic way while having access to global data and cultural trends has proved to be very powerful. This is a fundamental that is helping clients lead the growth agenda in their organisations.

While the world is headed into the metaverse, there is one ‘analogue’ potent differentiator that remains: creativity. No amount of machine learning will replace it. Creativity is still the essential ingredient to success and has the ability to tie every area of the organisation together, from sales and product, to innovation, finance, technology and HR. Putting CMOs at the centre of the growth agenda.

And that’s what I’m excited about the most.

UnLtd CEO Chris Freel says:

As 2022 approaches, I think the things that people are most looking forward to are connection, and more consistency. Certainly, that is what I am most excited about.

The ability to be together face-to-face is so important, and I think we have had a glimpse into how much people have missed this by seeing how popular the few industry events that have happened at the end of the year have been. Traveling to see family and friends is also something that has been sorely missed, and with a lot of expats in our industry I think 2022 will be the year that many finally get to go and see loved ones, albeit still a rather nerve-wracking expedition. And wouldn’t it be nice to have more consistency, so that we are able to be more proactive over reactive? I’m not sure if this is more hope over reality, but I hope that it’s the latter.


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