Initiative’s Mat Baxter: “Innovation Is Overdone”

Initiative’s Mat Baxter: “Innovation Is Overdone”

“Innovation is overdone. Just because you can innovate, it doesn’t mean you should, and I think we over-innovate. Sometimes being the first is not the best thing to do. I’d rather a media best than a media first.”

These are just some of the words of wisdom global CEO of media agency Initiative Mat Baxter gave the out of home industry at a fireside discussion in Sydney yesterday.

Speaking about the state of the industry and how Initiative is attempting to be “trailblazers” in the space, Baxter had plenty of advice for media owners and brands who are looking to stand out from the crowd.

Baxter said: “Trailblazing for me is a bigger idea. You can be doing something that’s been done a thousand times before but if you do it better, more cleanly, more efficiently and blazing a trail in something well-trodden and established, it makes all the difference.

“I think agencies need to get much better at that. Old isn’t bad. Old sometimes can be great.”

Baxter suggested that sometimes going back to trusted and established channels is just what’s needed. He said: “You don’t need innovation. You just need brilliant execution and to trailblaze with great work in an established channel.”

He added: “There’s no shame in that. I think we’re all so excited about the shiny sparkly objects at the moment and sometimes we miss the most obvious solution right in front of us. So let’s make sure we’re doing the right work for clients, and not just the work that looks shiny.”

Speaking on what makes some of the best brands in the world so successful, Baxter said it all comes down to consistency. Discussing some of the latest data to come out of RECMA, he said it’s no surprise that the brands that pitched the least, were the best brands.

He said: “The brands that pitched the least are the best brands because they have the most consistent partners. They have the most consistent commitment to a strategy and they follow through on their partnership in a more long-term and meaningful way.”

Baxter also criticised the emerging trend of swapping out an agency every time a new CMO comes on board.

He said: “Changing your agency like you change your underwear doesn’t’ get you stability, consistency and long-term growth.

“Every time a new CMO comes in, the order of the day seems to be to swap the agency out, and when the average tenure of a CMO is two to three years, that’s changing your strategy a lot.”

Baxter said one thing the industry needs to get better at is long term partnerships and what “long-term partnerships can do in terms of building value”.

He gave the example of Nike and how marketers hold up Nike and its marketing strategy as a “god-like object”. In reality, however, Baxter said what Nike is getting right is consistency.

He said: “Nike is just alarmingly consistent. We need to get clients to be more willing to invest long term and that’s a collective challenge for everybody.”

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