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Points North: Matt Bourn, Partner & Director, London, at Finn


Each Friday, Points North gives a senior media figure a platform to air their views on a topical or relevant issue.

This week it’s Matt Bourn, Partner & Director, London, at Finn. He says brand marketing is broken – and is pointing the finger at the internet.

We are in the middle of a perfect storm. Unfortunately, it’s not short-term, unlike the elements which are bringing it about.

Let’s take a closer look at that storm.

Brand marketing is broken. Research such as Havas’ Meaningful Brands has shown just how damaged brand marketing is. Consumers wouldn’t care if 92% of brands disappear tomorrow.

bournMeanwhile, trust in the media is being destroyed. Katharine Viner writes in The Guardian about the damage caused by the drive for clicks at any cost. Truth is a casualty and journalism is suffering. It isn’t too far a leap to suggest the lies which swung Brexit the vote and the rise of Trump in the US is possible because a weakened media is struggling to deal with the attention economy.

I’m a media man through and through. Fell in love with the media as a paperboy, reading every paper on my daily round. We need a strong commercial media sector. Not just for marketing although it sure as hell helps that. No brand was built on owned media alone.

So, here’s the thing. It’s time for our marketing industry to debunk media myths:

  • TV – it’s not dying, people are watching more than ever.
  • Newspapers and magazines – print isn’t dead, the Newsworks studies launched this week show print is the bedrock of brand-building.
  • Radio – biggest listening figures ever (digital audio is reaching its most exciting moment).

And it’s time to point the finger. Looking at you, Internet, and your glitzy, shiny hype. How about addressing the problems you’re causing for marketing and media? The IAB has started but more has to be done from the global tech players to be responsible when it comes to ad tech fraud, and more broadly, responsible when it comes to content. Maybe we tax them and invest it into the UK’s commercial media sector. Is that possible, who knows?

To escape this perfect storm, marketers need to be permitted by the businesses they work for to build brands for the long-term, and for their agency partners to support them fully in this.

Meanwhile, commercial media must prove its influence with high quality journalism and hold the lies to account. When it does this, it should be celebrated but admit when it gets it wrong. Wouldn’t it be great if the UK’s creative sector was supported by the cash-cow tech players to invest in talent and content for the long term?

The truth is marketers and media need each other, and without them the technology companies are just platforms with people shouting into the darkness at each other. It’s time to work together properly for the long-term.

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