Is The Marketing Industry Facing A Midlife Crisis?

Middle aged? Confused? Wondering what to do next? Buy a Porche Macan GTS perhaps?

Apparently whole industries can have midlife crises and as well as human beings, although buying a flashy, wildly overpriced sports car probably isn’t the solution in either case.

PHD’s top global strategist Mark Holden and marketing consultant Mark Ritson took to virtual mainstage at Cannes today to explore the possibility that the marketing industry is confronting its own “midlife crisis.”

“Just as we might experience midlife questions about our own existence, it is possible that an industry can have the same existential issues threaten its development,” said Holden. “And that has certainly been the case given the scale and pace of change that our industry has undergone over the past decade. We’ve attempted to draw parallels between an individual crisis, and what we are seeing within the marketing industry today.”

 “We’ve had a midlife crisis for quite a long time,” Ritson asserted. One symptom: so-called  ‘tactification’, which Ritson describes as “an almost complete obsession with marketing tactics at the expense of diagnosis, listening and understanding the market, and at the expense of more strategic thinking first.”



Another midlife crisis sign for the industry, said Ritson is what he terms “communification,” described as an approach where “we only really talk about advertising within the mix of all the different tactics.”

The session was timed to the recent release of a new PHD publication, “Shift|A Marketing Rethink” with Holden as lead author. It ­includes insights from thought leaders in marketing, including Ritson and client-side marketers such as Diageo’s Isabel Massey, Unilever’s Conny Braams, Volkswagen’s Stefan Buescher and HSBC’s Suresh Balaji.

The report looks back at the last decade and then looks ahead to the next five to 10 years to analyze how marketing appears to be changing, the implications for talent, and how marketers can prepare to rethink marketing for tomorrow now.



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