Back To The Future Of Marketing

Back To The Future Of Marketing

Great scott! The ceo of ADMA, Jodie Sangster discusses how marketing has evolved since Back to the Future II release in 1989 (and bemoans the lack of flying cars).

Sue Ralston
Posted by Sue Ralston

Many column inches this week have been devoted to Back to the Future II related musings. For those of you who haven’t seen them, today marks the precise day that Doc and Marty smashed into future in that movie — well technically at 4.29 pm Californian time which is Australian tomorrow for the data focused amongst us.

Whilst I’d like to use this time to bemoan the lack of flying cars and the prescience the movie showed in terms of predicting smart homes, wearables, sophisticated gaming and multi-channel TV, it is today’s marketing efforts surrounding the date and how this compares to marketing at the time the movie was issued that are worth noting.

Toyota, for example, is tapping into the zeitgeist to launch its new ‘futuristic’ car, the hydrogen fuel cell Mirai. It will hit the market today and last week the brand released a short video featuring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd having a conversation about what has and hasn’t come to fruition from the movie’s imagining of 2015 with the full film being released today. As is typical for 2015 it has been posted on YouTube, promoted via Facebook and Twitter and has a microsite and teaser videos, including fake Toyota dealer ads and a 1800 number that gives consumers further information.

It is striking in the number of available and cross-channel consumer touch points the campaign will to reach today versus the number that existed when the movies was released in 1989. Digital, social, video and mobile were, in some cases, decades away (CEO of Snapchat Evan Spiegel was yet to be born) and the idea brands would have access to terabytes of data, most of which has been generated in the last few years alone, would be as fanciful as Marty’s hover-board.

But always-on cross-channel opportunities are today’s marketing reality. The ubiquity of ‘big data’ is such that we rarely hear the phrase anymore; is just ‘data’ now. That marketing should be increasingly data-driven is consequently a given for most brands, but the process of digital transformation and the development of the required skill set and talent  in marketing teams is often easier said than done.

I can write this authoritatively as we are well into ADMA’s own digital transformation process. Clearly given our remit we have to walk our talk, but even being in the enviable position of having some of the industry’s best known experts on hand to advise, our small size and limited budget have offered plenty of challenges.

Key to success is ensuring a whole of business approach that has a solid strategy in place before the process even begins. Platforms and structures need to address current need but should also have one eye on the future (which in the near term is likely to include Internet of Things related technology, advanced beacon technology and robotic interactions).Emerging platforms and technologies are hitting the market all the time. At the risk of be labouring the movie analogy, when the film was released who would have guessed that wearable technologies would be a reality but self-adjusting clothes would not?

The next is in investment in the people that you have – and those you will recruit – in the data-driven skills that the marketers of today require. The reality is that senior marketers were likely in university or in their first jobs in 1989 when the movie came out.  At that point in time, one of the most innovative pieces of marketing was the job that Pepsi did in its product placement deal with the studio that enabled Pepsi Perfect to be become part of the  script (incidentally there was a terrific piece in last week’s US AdWeek on this which also talks about how Pepsi is releasing 6,500 limited edition bottles of Pepsi Perfect to coincide with today’s date).

So the task of overseeing emerging practices and ensuring that the right people are in place is a considerable one that has involved a steep learning curve, not least as technology is often outpacing the education and training available. We are seeing a huge upswing in our industry meet-ups as marketers from competing organisations are collaborating to share learnings. There is no cut and paste rule book to fall back on so the collective pooling of knowledge with competitors is often a better option than failing to move forward at all.

Education – and looking at what the industry requires in our post digital transformation world and how training can keep abreast, if not ahead of technology – has taken up the majority of ADMA’s thinking in 2015. Whilst we won’t be able to predict when marketers can beam branding to the underside of hover boards, we can ensure that they are better equipped to successfully leverage the available channels to them in 2016 and beyond and work to share the learnings of still nascent skills and practices to advance marketing skills across all levels of the marketing function.

We look forward to sharing how marketers can get their skills back on track to meet the future of marketing very shortly.