“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why . . . I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” – Robert Kennedy
Robert (Bobby) Kennedy himself might have fit in well at a marketing communications (marcom) firm.
This quote, referenced in our second annual roundtable discussion with some of the major players from Northeast Florida’s marcom firms, comes as the conversation toggles between nostalgia and what’s next for the industry.
Those drawn to work in marketing and communications are those who are looking for something different every day, and those who don’t mind starting with a blank white canvas every morning. They are people who accept the risks that come with being in an industry that is often an early economic indicator: the first to advance in good times, and the first to hurt in bad.
Our discussion raises a question that many marcom firms are facing today: Should we embrace the past or invest in the future?
And it appears that opinions are split.
Attitudes toward “old school” marketing materials seem to be reversing. Direct mailings for example – once deemed obsolete due to the growing popularity of digital communications – are making a comeback as clients are beginning to long for that tangible relationship of the past.
“We need to remember that consumers trust peers more than they trust brands, and this is more true than ever in the digital age,” says Dan Croft, the vice president of business strategy for Station Four. “Trust is the basis of doing business, and marketers are there to help brands get into a trust-based dialog with consumers.”
Clients looking to connect with their audiences on a more personal level could benefit from tangible marketing materials. We have hit a saturation point when it comes to digital advertising. “People are overwhelmed,” David Bonner, executive creative director at On Ideas, points out.
There is something to be said for materials you can physically hold and touch, particularly when they hold nostalgic value. It can be an important way to break through the noise. For example, print advertisements – like those in magazines, once perhaps thought out-of-date, now offer a niche marketing opportunity.
In fact, Bonner names letterpress and screen printing as his favorite “new technology,” saying with a flourish: “What’s old is new again. Craft quenches authenticity for the masses, ironically starving on impersonal ubiquity.”
Written by Kate Jolley