Things that should die in 2016

Mumbrella asked a bunch of folk in media and marketing in Asia what is the one thing they most want to see the end of this year…


Rob CampbellRob Campbell, regional head of planning, Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai

I’d like to see the end of “anonymous comments” on industry sites. It’s toxic. I understand why whistleblowers need to keep their identity secret, but that benefit should not extend to people who simply want to spread their vitriol and pettiness.

By all means if you have something to say, say it… but have the decency to put your name to it because then you might encourage constructive debate rather than meaningless name calling.


Joseph TsangJoseph Tsang, digital business director, Grey Shanghai

Clients asking for a viral idea. The correct concept should be “good idea” as all marketers know that there is no way to come up with a viral idea from a brand perspective. Only a good idea from a consumer’s perspective will go viral.


Fiona BartholomeuszFiona Bartholomeusz, managing director, Formul8

Clients who seem hell bent on conducting pitches over major national holidays (Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Lunar New Year seem to be the hot favourites). Worse when they seem to use it as a test to see if the agencies are dedicated enough. Come on, don’t they get that disgruntled staff = lacklustre work? Make us work weekends and late hours (and we’ll do it willingly) but some days in the year should be about time spent with family/loved ones. Respect that.


Ali BullockAli Bullock, social media specialist and photographer

I want to see an end to pointless creative awards and award shows. In fairness I have worked with a number of great agencies (McCann, Fluid, AKQA, DraftFCB) who have won awards from some great work and rightly should be recognised for this. However, their are now to many awards and agencies are being pushed in my opinion to go to far to gain recognition.

As the World Wildlife Fund entry in Indonesia by Dentsu Utama recently showed, agencies seem so desperate to win they will go to great lengths. Was it a copy or just coincidence? While this is for the judges to decide, it seems to me to be a worrying trend in the industry.

I’m not against creatives using or re-using previous ideas for inspiration, but when agencies blatantly copy works or run one advert in one low cost newspaper to justify an entry it really (to me at least) renders the whole process pointless.

We should give our agency people time off, and then they will have the space to come up with great ideas. They should not be toiling away in the office writing some entry to get yet another statue to go in the lobby of their reception. Imagine if all the time agencies put into these award submissions were actually channeled into positive work, such as volunteering English lessons or after school projects with underpriviled kids in Hong Kong?

But alas that won’t move the heads of these agencies or appeal to their clients. Or at least that seems to be the perceived wisdom.

(Finally, it would be remiss of me not to give a hat tip to Amir Kassaei, chief creative officer of DDB Worldwide who said this before I did and got me thinking about this whole subject.)


Pat LawPat Law, founder, Goodstuph

Fluffy titles pegged alongside with the word Social. Social Architect. Social Media Guru. Social Media Expert. Social Engineer.


Wayne Arnold

Wayne Arnold, global CEO, MullenLowe Profero

People labelling APAC as if it is one country. Too many marketing professionals outside of APAC still treat the region as one simplistic land mass, with the same opportunities and problems from country to country.

I find this fascinating, as the truth is of course that we live in such a beautiful complex, fascinating and multi-cultural melting pot.

This unique and diverse collection of cultures creates not only a joyful place to live, work and play – it also holds many amazing opportunities for marketers that are overlooked.

My relocation to Singapore [Arnold moved from London in 2013] has been one of the most interesting, but challenging opportunities of my career. However the dividends it has paid off have made the move more than worthwhile.

I’d love to see more global leaders in the US and EMEA acknowledge the amazing diversity of our region first-hand.

This applies as much to agencies as it does for clients.

Asia as a continent is breathtaking in its diversity, and investing in the appropriate talent and strategy to reflect that will ultimately make us all more successful.


Michel de RijkMichel de Rijk, Asia Pacific CEO, Xaxis

One thing I’d love to see die in 2016 is CTR (click through rates). It is an archaic and inaccurate method of campaign performance measurement that has lost its value and only serves to promote ad fraud. Measuring success according to CTR is as bad as putting a Ford Model T engine in a Tesla and telling yourself that it works great.


Andrew AuAndrew Au, managing director, Southeast Asia, Imagination

One thing I wish would go away is clients that send out RFPs with very short turnaround times for submission (which doesn’t allow enough time for ideation as well as proper costing) and then we as the agency burn the midnight oil to get our response in on time and then the client goes completely dark and (in good case scenarios) say the project is delayed and will be revisited at a later stage or (in bad cases) the project is not happening at all. Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like to have done to you.

Another thing I wish is for clients to be more trusting of agencies they approach to pitch. I really don’t understand why some clients can give a fairly thorough brief yet not disclose a budget (common reasons are “I can’t tell you the budget” or “I don’t have a confirmed budget” both are unreasonable answers especially if you are asking the agency to do a significant amount of speculative work in order to win the work (I won’t be so naive as to wish for free spec work to go away in 2016). Also please tell us who we are competing against. What’s the big secret? If anything it helps agencies (and clients) as we can quickly assess if the opportunity is an appropriate one for both parties to explore.


Henry AdamsHenry Adams, founder, Contented

The thing I would most like to die in 2016 (preferably if I can kill it with my bare hands) is the buzzword culture. In particular, the phrase ‘marketing stack’. As Joe Lazauskas has already quite brilliantly pointed out, it makes you think of pancakes. Pancakes piled upon delicious pancakes. The disappointment when you realise it actually refers to different marketing systems working together is exceedingly hard to get over.


David KoDavid Ko, co-founder and managing director, The Daylight Partnership

I want fake social media fans to die. Well, not literally, just their online fake personas, like the ones on Facebook where they have 10 friends or less, and every post on their wall is a Like for one brand page after another. The ones that somehow seem able to slip by the tightest, most focused, most exclusive targeting criteria for any campaign. Run an ad targeting Chinese-speaking girls aged 15-18 that went to school in Hong Kong, love Hello Kitty and listen to local Indie music? I guarantee you there’ll be dozens of those fake fans creeping in, Liking your content and eroding your reach ROI.


Mark HadfieldMark Hadfield, Asia Pacfic planning director, Iris Worldwide

Fear. Fear stops agency talent speaking up and pushing for extraordinary, and makes them happy with ‘nice’ work. Fear stops that same talent from believing in themselves, and makes them question themselves. Fear stops clients buying disruptive work, and makes them buy wallpaper instead. Fear stops brands playing a cultural role in life, and makes them play a category role. Fear stops us mouthpieces actually speaking what we believe, and makes us choose topics that make us look smart. So in 2016, be fearless. We’ll all be better off for it.


Iain TwineIain Twine, CEO, Southeast Asia and Australasia, Edelman

The phrase “the media is dead” should die. Consumption of media seems to be more important than the election cycle. Media is more trusted than government, according to the latest findings from the Edelman Trust Barometer.


Karen See, co-founder, Embrace Worldwide

Karen SeeI left the industry to pursue my own purpose in supporting women to be happy, confident and successful — to ensure women can be better versions of themselves and be as confident as they can be competent. My ideal, and it is an ideal, is to eliminate gender inequality and bring parity into the work place or why not make it even a bigger ask and say bring gender parity to the advertising industry! Alas, it will take more than a year to do – and some people say it won’t be in my generation. But I’m willing to fight the good fight until I die.


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