Back in 1977, Nike released the world’s first ever brand advert. It was a stunning, stripped back image, artfully shot with a sun-lit runner through a forest at dawn. It had a simple strap-line “There is no finish line.” This was a different kind of advertising. There was no product and no message. The entire communication takes place in the mind of the consumer and not on the page—in effect, what it means is what you think it means.
Nike’s branding wasn’t about the packaging, which is where the art of branding traditionally took place. Nike was all about selling a story, a concept and a feeling and it redefined an entire set of influencer industries, from PR to marketing to advertising (I lump them all together as “marketing,” but we should call them the “influencer industries.” To be fair, back in the 1970s the world of the marketer was once a simple one (basically acquire people’s attention and then shout the loudest). The approach worked when brands operated with fewer channels and targets, and before our attention spans were shot to pieces. But it’s ineffective in our present world where, as consumers, we are assailed with literally hundreds if not thousands of images and messages.
Stepping forward a generation, the world of the 21st century CMO must seem incredibly confusing and complex compared with say, just ten years ago. Mastery of technology is a lot of the job because the proliferation of channels is unprecedented. For example, who could have predicted the rise of the Kardashian juggernaut and the arrival of a new, marketing careerist: the social media influencer? Meanwhile, today’s brands have also digitized, with algorithms predicting precisely what content to serve up to a customer or prospect, where and when they sit in the buying cycle (sounds simple buts it’s not). And we all know that one wrong, misguided step can see a brand that has taken years to build, suffer catastrophic damage with customers fleeing to a competitor—and my PR team will rightly forbid me from mentioning names…
If you think about it, those swaggering, sharp suits of “Mad Men” striding across Madison Avenue putting creative campaigns together for Nike now seem an anachronism in the high risk, high octane, tech-saturated world of marketing. Instead of Mad Men, look for the savvy hipsters of London’s Old Street or Kings Cross that “get” the finely tuned interplay between offline and online channels, algorithms and, critically, empathy. Look at the entire influencer industry that now pivots on the interplay between technology and empathy. The reason why is that digitally powered connectivity and data intelligence married with human insight is redefining the brand experience. And it’s also making the whole business of marketing—read influence—fiendishly complex to master.
Today, at the root of the successful marketer is an agile mindset and an ability to adapt to consumer dynamics that can now switch at warp speed. Smarter, faster and better equipped than their competition, he or she can deal with shifting consumer sentiment in a matter of hours, if not seconds. They experiment with a host of tools and technologies to test and unpick customer motivations, track the path to purchase, shape emerging market niches and turbo-charge the customer and brand experience. Technology is opening up a world of possibilities for the CMO and his team—and this is why we think there will be a bonanza of new jobs in the next ten years.
So, we invite you to ponder 21 Jobs of the Future in Marketing that we think are both plausible and prescient—and above all represent essential work that people still need to do, connecting people to stories, brands, and experiences. It might sound counter-intuitive, but the most effective brands rely more than ever on the technology to build authentic experiences and tell genuine stories. Quite simply, concerns about a “jobless future” in marketing really do miss the mark.
PS. It was two years since Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work proposed 21 Jobs of the Future that will emerge in the next ten years and last year, we presented 21 More. Both espouse the central argument that even as work is changing, as technology bleeds into everything, and humans have never been more central to the future of work. Now, as 2019 unfolds, we turn our attention to the office of the CMO and the unprecedented way it’s changing. Again, I would like to thank my colleagues at Zone and Mirabeau that provided invaluable help in creating these new job profiles and gave the study a design edge which we hope you will enjoy.
PPS. The rise of the social media influencer. I did watch (with a fair dollop of schadenfreude I might add), the FYRE documentary on Netflix. It was a fascinating piece of film making that shows what happens when a slick message leaps way too far ahead of the reality. You also couldn’t help but question how on earth a festival could cost as much as $75,000 for ticket!?! Sheesh…