O&M London's Chief Strategy Officer, Kevin Chesters, wrote about why getting out there is 2018's most important trend in Digital Doughnut.


If it's not AI, machine learning, customer experience, voice, or virtual reality, what should be the biggest trend for marketers in 2018? Kevin Chesters, chief strategy officer at Ogilvy UK, the global advertising & marketing agency, believes that the trend we should be following is getting out from behind our desks and meeting real people!

It’s always very tempting when writing about trends to go straight to technology solutions. You’ll be reading an awful lot in the next month about the AI robots who will be nicking your job, or the programmatic bots that will be robbing all your adspend, or possibly the undeniable march of the management consultants who’ll be replacing your agency all together by the time you’re sitting down to your Shrove Tuesday pancakes in February (the 13th, I checked). But I’m here to make a play for a cultural trend that isn’t really a trend at all. It’s more of a comeback kid. And that “trend” is a mixture of strategic insight and shoe leather that I like to call “getting out there”.

I think we’ll see a lot more of people getting out from behind their desks and going out to get real insight from real people. A bit more getting off your bot than simply eulogising digital bots. I think we’ll see a lot more strategists realizing that they can get a lot more from visiting real bars than they can from their search bar.

In 2017 we launched an initiative at Ogilvy called “Get Out There”. It was ‘inspired’ (triggered?) by the Brexit vote and how much this took adland by surprise. We send our planners off to all sorts of far flung places in the British Isles to talk to real people (yes, them!), test hypotheses and report back. We are using all those TRENDY new skills like thinking, talking, walking and tea-drinking. We’ve been as far as Hull and Boston (Lincolnshire, not Massachusets), Hereford and Durham, Eastbourne and Oldham. We go to the places where the focus groups do not and where you don’t normally get your insights from. In 2018 we will be off to the Outer Hebrides, New Maldon and Nuneaton (?!) amongst others. It isn’t meant to be an epoch-making , category-defining, industry-upheavaling process. It is simply a matter of rediscovering some of the core skills of planning that technology has ‘helped’ us to forget.

I love technology. Always have, always will. I’m a massive geek. Technology has enabled us to do a lot of things faster and better, but it has also made us all very very lazy. Reading the same reports, visiting the same websites and (shock! Horror!) perusing the same new year trend predictions.

So here’s my cultural trend for 2018. I think some of the old ways will start to be seen again as the best ways. The new ProfitAbility report from Thinkbox has already proved that good old TELLY ads are easily the most effective and efficient way of reaching customers. Great ideas & quality of creative were proved years ago to be the single biggest drivers of advertising profitability. And I think “getting out there” and talking to people will (or certainly should) be one of the better ways of avoiding the filter bubbles and getting to better, stronger insights and ideas in 2018.


This was originally published in Digital Doughnut here.