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My Take On: Post-modern marketing


Danny Turnbull, managing director of Stein IAS (EMEA), sounds a rallying cry for a new era of marketing. 

Marketing’s pre-modern era – that’s the Mad Men. From the early 1950s into the 1980s, this golden age of advertising was marked by iconic ideas and fuelled by the emergence of mass media. From Volkswagen’s ‘Think Small’ to Apple’s ‘Think Different’, grand ideas were delivered with intuitive, almost magical brilliance.

Cue the internet, and the dawn of marketing’s ‘modern’ era, which was sent into hyperdrive by the stunning rise of the digital-social-mobile world order. More recently, modern marketing has been powered by martech and adtech – and marked by the embrace of data-driven segmentation, structure and accountability.

The folks at Oracle Marketing Cloud define modern marketing as “the paradigm of inbound marketing programs driven by digital channels, served by multiple touches, measured by sophisticated technologies – and where data analysis is king…”

There’s no debating, modern marketing has (and continues to) serve us well. It has given marketers greater impact; greater confidence; a more significant seat at the table. It has energised us with its innovation, challenged us with its complexity.

Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman in his book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ stated that human beings “are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think”. Modern marketing reminds me a lot of what Kahneman calls “thinking machines” – but not so much what he calls “feeling machines”.

My Take On… Brand authenticity in the era of fake newsAs much as I and our agency value the technology-infused power of modern marketing, a new era is upon us and we need to go beyond it (without forgoing all it has to offer). We don’t interact with brands because of algorithms, data models and automated emails. It’s time for the “feeling machines” to regain prominence, and come into balance with the “thinking machines.” It’s time to for marketing’s post-modern era.

It’s time to be more personal, more creative and more reliant on experiences that are deeply satisfying. It’s about allowing the pre-modern magic back in. Post-modern marketing is more a re-balancing. It carries forward the best of preceding eras into this new stage. We joke that it’s Spock plus Kirk. Pre-modern was emotional. Modern was rational. Post-modern is both. The foundational frameworks of data, segmentation, implicit and explicit triggers, but painted with the brilliant brushstrokes of a renaissance in intuitive ideas and mind-blowingly big creative experiences.

We need to call on the Mad Men and women within us, while equally tapping into the mad scientists we have all become. At once, we’ve got to be alchemists and quants. One or the other was a choice you could make in the modern marketing era. We are post that now. And what an exciting era it promises to be.

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