|Introducing the speaker - more photos to follow!|
We held the lecture this year in the beautiful Wren church of St Mary at Hill. It is a very open venue and I had long been keen to introduce members and guests to some of our fine City churches other than our own livery church, St Bride's in Fleet Street. Used to the fine architecture of the livery halls, we are apt to forget that the churches form a parallel set of long established and very historical buildings, equally suffering within their number much damage in the Great Fire and the Blitz.
Our guest speaker was Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide for Saatchi & Saatchi.
Kevin has developed a unique and engaging style of presentation as I have learned over the years from hearing him and I knew his message would find interest well beyond those engaged in professional marketing as a day job.
Kevin's attention is placed firmly on the customer - as he says the customer ultimately owns the brand, not the manufacturer. He stresses the importance of IDEAS as the only saleable commodity in the modern market. People he claims no longer simply want information - there is already a surfeit of information available. Purchases today are made at the emotional level and advertising has to find new unexpected ways of getting noticed, striking home and making an impact within an environment of information overload. Kevin spikes his presentation with well chosen clips of TV advertisements which are highly entertaining, and by UK standards fairly unorthodox in their approach - indicating that the UK may still be slow and somewhat conservative in comparison. Most of the clips appeal directly to emotion and the wish to establish viral marketing possibilities with impactful ads that people talked or tweeted about still appeared to be mostly American.
His main opening thesis is that we are moving from a VUCA world to a SUPERVUCA world. A VUCA world is one that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Kevin's new SUPERVUCA world is Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Astounding. Ideas are the new currency and he indicates this by example of the many traditional industries which have been made largely redundant by finding new ways to meet the consumer need.
Kevin Roberts also remarked how management priorities need to change. The bulk of management time used to be employed in assessment of alternatives and decision making. Execution used to account for only 20% of management time. In the new world of business all ideas are allowed to float and the customer will identify those that work. Execution therefore now accounts for 70% of management time.
What I took away from the lecture was the need for all of us to imagine the impossible, to look beyond the current way of doing things, and in more classic language, to think outside the box. I rather like Kevin's concept of the CEO becoming the Chief Excitement Officer, the CMO the Chief Magic Officer and the CIO the Chief Ideas Officer. We seem to be stepping out from a safe stable world to one of great possibilities and more unpredictable outcomes.
We concluded the lecture with refreshments and the feedback received was excellent. The lecture was entertaining as well as thought provoking and hopefully for those still working in marketing - inspiring.
The Lecture took shape thanks to people and organisations who have both taken an interest in my Master's year and also provided great support to it.
Tina Hallett, Senior Partner at PWC, inspired me with a great theme of 'Loyalty Beyond Reason'. That inspired me to use a church, thus the ideal location of St Mary at Hill, the Church for Billingsgate. Kevin Roberts had spoken for us before and is well known to me and the Company. He did say that he was never usually asked to come back! The Chartered Institute of Marketing and TOTAL kindly provided financial support. I remain grateful to everyone, especially Rev Canon Flora Winfield, Rector of St Mary at Hill.