Future Visions is the series that explores the surreal world of tomorrow through the finest minds of today. Here Cindy Gallop shares with us her insights on the future of the advertising industry and the reality of the new world order.
Meet our expert, Cindy Gallop. Cindy has had a celebrated career in advertising, marketing, branding and future thinking. Her continuous pursuit to challenge and disrupt the status quo has seen her become a voice and contributor to many big debates around hard, topical and challenging subjects.
Key insights from Cindy’s vision of the future
- The word 'work' will be completely outmoded. We will live what we work and work what we live, based on what we believe in, are passionate about and good at.
- The concepts of 'online' and 'offline' will no longer exist in 2037, while the term 'digital' will sound as redundant as saying "pass me the electric-powered hairdryer".
- The concept of gendered work will have disappeared, while your personal and professional identity will be one and the same.
- Less screen time. Through advances in technology, such as voice searches, fewer and fewer web browsing sessions will be done using a screen.
This is my vision of the workplace in 20 years’ time...
There is no future that happens without deliberate human intervention. The future of work is the future that you, I and all the rest of us make happen. This means it’s important to state that my vision for the future of work is not an objective observational "I think this is what it will be like".
Instead it's a subjective, proactive "this is what I’m going to make it, based on what I want to see happen, the world of work I want to operate in and my knowledge of the facts, trends and technologies I can leverage to make it happen."
In 2037, the word 'work' will be outmoded, and work as we think about it today will no longer exist. That’s because our lives will no longer be divided on the basis Tim Ferriss pre-supposes in his book The Four Hour Workweek: that there is the nasty bit, 'work', which our aim has to be to reduce as much as possible, versus the nice bit, 'everything else', which our aim has to be to expand as much as possible.
Welcome to The No Hour Workweek
Instead, we will operate in The No Hour Workweek. We will live what we work and work what we live, based on what we believe in, are passionate about and good at. We’ll therefore be able to sell and trade on this with audiences and consumers who want it, see the value in it and pay for it.
In 2037 companies will have understood that the future of business is doing good and making money simultaneously. Not in the old world order way that companies in 2017 think makes sense - by separating that on the one hand we make money and then on the other hand we write cheques to causes to clear our conscience. Instead, we will see the new world order in action - we make money because we do good, we find a way to integrate social responsibility into the way we do business on a day to day basis and therefore, ultimately, it makes it a key driver of future growth and profitability.
In 2037 brands will have bought into the business model of the future: shared values + shared action = shared profit (that’s financial profit and social profit). In other words, when businesses come together with their consumers on the basis of values they all share (the key requirement for a good relationship in life as much as business), together they can make things happen in the real world that will benefit consumers, society and the business.
Work will have been transformed through the vision, lens, creativity, talent and skills of women and people of colour. They will have demonstrated, in starting their own businesses, a move away from traditional white, male corporate values and a reimagining of business and of work from the ground up.
Part of this will be fluidity in the concept of 'workplace' and the environments from which and in which we choose to work. Technology, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), the blockchain, a revaluing of human participation and roles, combined with the spread of Universal Basic Income, will have completely reconfigured what we call 'work'.
The disappearance of gendered work
So, in 2037, your workplace will be whatever and wherever you choose it to be. Remote working and working in virtual reality will demand high-trust company cultures and work environments. Your work will come out of who you are and will be focused on what you uniquely have to offer matched with the companies, audiences and markets who most value it and pay for it, versus requiring you to fit yourself into someone else’s concept of a 'job'. 'Company' will mean just that - a choice of who you want to work with and keep company with based on shared values and fulfilling collaborative output. The concept of gendered work will have disappeared, and your personal and professional identity will be one and the same - because you can be yourself throughout.
To quote Alan Kay, "in order to predict the future, you have to invent it". This isn’t about anticipating what might be coming, this is about deciding what kind of future you want to live in, work in and make it happen. Because if you don’t, somebody else will, and it may not be the future you want. There has never been a better time to decide how you want to work in the future, and then to start making it happen.
This vision of the future will be made possible through six key trends; anger at the inequality of opportunity, redesigning business models, the re-envisioning of what constitutes 'where you work', AI, Universal Basic Income and the blockchain.
AI will change everything, this is a point you’ll struggle to find anyone to disagree with. Similarly, there is broad acknowledgement that the concept of open, distributed ledgers - presented by the blockchain - can be used to underpin and inform new ways of doing business and working.
While Universal Basic Income is currently being debated in many countries and tested with pilot studies in Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Kenya and the US.
Anger at the inequality of opportunity
We are already seeing the frustration and dissatisfaction of women and people of colour with working while facing challenges of bias, discrimination and sexual harassment in a white male dominated world. This is driving us to start our own businesses, which allows us to redesign the world of work according to our values, not white male corporate values - something I encouraged in my 3PercentConference 2016 keynote 'Women And People Of Colour In Advertising, Here’s What You Do Next'.
This is where I take issue with Sheryl Sandberg (whom I otherwise admire). Sheryl wants us to lean in within the existing system; I want us to redesign the system, in a way that will create a much happier world of work for men.
The future of marketing
As I regularly explain, I’m not a fan of the word diversity. It shouldn’t be about diversity, it should be about humanity. My industry has a responsibility to reflect the world as it really is in our creative output, in order to sell to the world as it really is on behalf of our clients. And in order to do that, we need to reflect the world as it really is within our industry.
97 per cent of all ad agency creative directors are men, meaning only three per cent are women, and yet women are the primary purchasers and primary influencers of purchases. Yet we are continually reflected back to ourselves in advertising through the male gaze. It’s no wonder 90 per cent of women say advertising doesn’t understand them.
An industry that sells to primarily women should be made up of primarily women, it should be led by primarily women - especially when it comes to creative leadership. When we make that happen, we give marketing and advertising the power to change the future through the female lens.
I’ve been trying to get Unilever to understand this for a long time. The answer to selling more effectively to women is not about how you depict them in advertising. The answer is to insist that every one of your many portfolio agencies installs female executive creative directors and ensures they recruit creatives who are more female than male. Problem instantly solved.
What happens when you take women seriously
Women buy. We are the primary purchasers and the primary influencers of purchase in every product sector, including many traditionally thought to be male. For example, since 2010 more women in the US hold drivers licenses than men. In the all-important US millennial new-car buying market (important because car marque preferences get set early on) 53 per cent of millennial new car buyers are female. Yet the automotive industry continues to target its product design, dealerships, CRM and advertising at men – because the industry itself is dominated by men.
Secondly, women share. Social media is simply a new methodology for us to do what we’ve been doing since the dawn of time, which is share the shit out of everything in a way that men don’t. We are the sharers, the talkers, the chatters, the gossipers, the advocates, the ambassadors, the recruiters – so much so, that I advise brands that think they’re targeting men, to talk to women, because women will influence men more than men will influence other men.
In this context, the single most important thing businesses need to do to be killing it in 2037, is set out now to make their leadership ranks and their company at every level predominantly female. Women challenge the status quo because we are never it. I tell companies that there is one thing they can do right now to instantly set their business on a more innovative, disruptive path. Take a long hard look at your organisation; identify every area that is all-male or male-dominated, and change that. Just doing that one thing ensures that you will own the future in 2037.
Online v offline
The concepts of ‘online’ and ‘offline’ will no longer exist in 2037. The term 'digital' is already redundant, saying digital anything is a bit like saying, "switch on the electric-powered kettle" or "pass me the electric-powered hairdryer".
The huge mistake that many in the marketing and advertising industry make is to be seduced by shiny new object syndrome and think "oh we should be using Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and virtual reality... now, what can we do with it?". Whereas they should be thinking "here are our business objectives, our strategy for achieving them, now, what technology can we best and most creatively leverage to service that?".
2037 belongs to the brands and marketers who set a clear vision, develop an innovative and distinctive strategy to achieve it, and then capitalise on the accelerated pace of digital and technological change to execute in the most creatively compelling way possible, with no distinction between online and offline.
The future is not ad units, but ad products. Brands and marketers creating things of utility and value that delight consumers in their application, and that are able therefore to engage, compel and transact simultaneously.
For example, the development of AI means that by 2020, 30 per cent of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen (according to Gartner Research) and 50 per cent of all searches will be voice searches (so says Comscore). Just look at the impact of Amazon’s Echo Show.
Advertising takes on a whole new form in this context.
The next evolution of data insight
The future of effective marketing and advertising depends on access to usable data, at a time when consumers are more aware than ever before of how much data can be gathered on them. They’re becoming increasingly more worried and angry about this than ever before.
The next evolution of data insight is critical: to humanise big data, and the collection of data. Big data is not statistics. Big data is people. And the solution to effective data collection and access is a very human one.
I explain it like this. Think about how, in life and at work, you regularly meet someone of whom you think: "I like you - I’d like to be friends". Perhaps it’s a new colleague you look forward to working with, or someone you feel attracted to and would like to date. You want to find out more about this person, so you begin opening up to them and sharing information about yourself in order to get them to open up to you and share more about themselves. As you open up to each other more and more, you build a relationship of trust, respect, liking and affection, until you’re at the point where the other person is thinking "I want you to know me".
That is exactly how brands need to operate when it comes to data. Open up yourself to get consumers to want to open up to you. Be open, authentic, and transparent. Share yourself; build a relationship of trust, respect, liking, and affection to the point where your consumer wants you to know them because they see the benefit sharing their data with you delivers to them.
How to prepare yourself for change...
- Identify every area in your business that is all-male, or male-dominated, and change it. Women challenge the status quo because they are never it.
- Work out how your brand will humanise the sharing and colleting of data, make it a conversation your customers are happy to have - not one which makes you feel awkward and them disgruntled.
- What is the sound of your brand? Increased voice searching means that less time will be spent consuming content via screens. How do you fit into this new reality?