'Mad Men' 2025: Ad Leaders Predict the Future of the Industry

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As "Mad Men" brings its epic look back at agency life in the 60s and 70s to a close, we asked today's agency leaders what "Mad Men" would look like if it were set in the future -- specifically 10 years from now.

Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP Group
In 2025 the (fabulously entertaining) world described by "Mad Men" will probably seem even more remote, anachronistic and misogynistic. We'll no longer define "creativity" in the limited sense of just art and copy, and technology, data and content will be so much a part of what we do that the word "digital" will seem hopelessly quaint and narrow. We will be far more global in outlook (Mars, the moon?) and less Anglo-American, and there will be far more Peggy Olsons running agencies (along with people from more diverse backgrounds generally). By then, I also believe that chief financial officers and chief procurement officers will agree that marketing is an investment, not a cost.

Sarah Hofstetter, CEO, 360i
The word "digital" will not be used to describe agencies or channels. Regardless of what emerging technologies come our way, some of the basics of marketing will still prevail -- the need for breakthrough creative, deep insights informed by an innate understanding of people and brands, and a finger on the pulse of culture. Technology will make things easier for sure, but the need for human creativity across the marketing landscape will still play a critical role in tapping into consumer psyche and driving action.

Ted Royer, New York chief creative officer, Droga5
In 2025 everyone will get communications from companies jacked directly into their faces. It will be a constant stream of light, sound and emotion received through an alien face hugger/Oculus Rift combination. And we'll all be okay with that because by then corporations will have convinced us that they are our huge best friends, like skyscraper-sized dogs. So to sum up: Giant building-size dogs will pump brand love messages directly into our faces.

Arthur Sadoun, global CEO, Publicis Worldwide
Thinking back 10 years to 2005, I'm not sure any of us could have predicted where the current Fortune 50 would be today. In another 10, I'm sure it will have completely changed again. For one thing, the rise of platforms will have broken the intermediary model. Why will we need traditional comms agencies when brands and customers are seamlessly matched together with deep data? The value exchange between producers and consumers will no longer flow one way: Platforms will allow them to create meaningful timely experiences together. As an industry, we need to rapidly change what we do -- because there isn't a role for salience when you have symbiosis.

Robert Senior, worldwide CEO, Satachi & Saatchi
In 2025… There will still be clients. There will still be creative ideas that play out across multiple channels, and the smart ones will transform their clients' businesses. So at its core, not much change. But the window dressing will continue its breathless pace of transformation. Faster, cheaper, better integrated, instantly measurable, with wearable technology as a likely new paradigm-shifting platform. And no doubt the term "TV ads" will have become obsolete, not least to satisfy all the people who have predicted the death of TV for years.

Lindsay Pattison, worldwide CEO, Maxus
Programmatic approaches will see media largely executed by machine, but the role of agencies to control and refine this will grow exponentially. Brand and direct marketing will become more immediate, individual and inter-connected. Meanwhile non-programmatic media will become more singular and experiential, as advanced technology and connectivity drive innovation and adoption. The media agencies that thrive will be purveyors of efficiency. They will have built and acquired their own technology, and made smart deals to offer customers exclusive access to the dominant digital media vendors' global data. They will have learnt to take calculated risks with their own money (rather than clients') to make advertising that is better than their competitors'. The tide is about to go out. We will then see who's been swimming naked and who hasn't.

John Allison, executive creative director, Channel 4's 4Creative
In 2025 the world will still be suffering from the great digital collapse of 2023, billions and billions of zettabytes of data lost forever and the global economy in ruins. When the riots are in full swing, the streets are burning and all seems lost, an ad-guy pipes up and says "I think I've got an idea…."

Rei Inamoto, chief creative officer, AKQA
By 2025, 95% of customers will manage their business relationships without ever talking to a human. Many service transactions are becoming digital each year. Until a few years ago, we had to manually call a car service. Now it's done digitally without talking to a human. This is the biggest problem that brands and businesses will continually face for the next ten years: How to take this as an opportunity and create new and meaningful connections and services for people.

Pam Hamlin, global president, Arnold Worldwide
The focus for marketers will be the same. That is, we'll need to continue to find ways to tell timeless human stories that make brands relevant and important to consumers. The challenge will be staying ahead of emerging technologies because that's what will impact how human stories are told. There will continue to be more ways to reach people -- and yet people will never be harder to reach, making the power of ideas even more important. It's the paradox of our time. Of course, there are some on my team who think giant robots will have taken over by then and none of this will really matter anyway!

Richard Edelman, CEO, Edelman
TV commercials will still exist on live events such as The Super Bowl. Media planning, PR and digital will morph into one, but agencies will have different areas of emphasis. For example, PR will remain focused on real stories and conduct small buys that are well placed. The prime of the boomer generation was the 90s, so that will be retro nostalgia marketing. There will still be quality news, but based on circulation revenue, not advertising.

Jean Lin, global CEO, Isobar
Today the creative director is the perfect conceptual storyteller, and they're mostly from copywriting or art direction backgrounds. Maybe even starting in three to five years there will be wonderful creative directors that come from software engineering backgrounds, because technology is becoming such an important part of appealing to humanity.

Steve King, CEO, ZenithOptimedia
I suspect that from a media perspective our business will see the same transformation as has happened to the travel industry. The days of buying mass media based on syndicated data will quickly become anachronistic as it is replaced by highly measurable and addressable placements across all forms of media, both on and offline. Hyper-targeting will become the norm, as will machine-based buying. As a consequence, we'll see a massive acceleration of advertising investment as every dollar invested pays back. Media agencies will be largely unrecognizable from today and will be led by business strategists and data scientists. Clients will increasingly look to the media agencies to replace the management consultants as their critical partners in their own business transformations. Lord Sorrell and French President Maurice Levy's children become happily married with the two former competitors happily sharing a holiday chateau on the French Riveria.

Lori Senecal, global CEO, CP&B; president & CEO, MDC Partner Network
The Future of advertising will be linked to the future of human behavior. Advertising will move from just messaging to understanding and predicting based on individual human behaviors and needs. It will leverage technology in service of making people feel understood and cared for. Essentially brands can leverage big data by monitoring people's needs to deliver big service and big emotion.

Harris Diamond, chairman-CEO, McCann Worldgroup
Today's teenagers, now in their mid-20s, will no doubt bemoan the "good old days" when videos went viral and you could count yourself cool if you cut the cord. There won't be any cords. "Viral" will go back to being a purely a healthcare term. No one will quite remember what a "video" is. In the advertising industry -- whatever it will be called then -- we will still discuss the importance of creativity. If anything, creativity will only become more important, despite the influence of data. We will still be reached by the power of imagination and emotional truth about our lives. We can also expect to see significant and meaningful demographic changes in the character of our business -- not only more diversity in our work force, but more diversity at the very top levels of leadership.

Bill Koenigsberg, CEO, Horizon Media
There will no longer be creative agencies and media agencies clients will be looking for "consumer experience" agencies led by the media agencies of today who will manage content, comms planning, activation and analytics and innovation. Agencies will be led by content strategists who will architect the consumer journey and engage along the path. Agencies will employ psychologists who will understand human behavior and how that relates to product purchase and media consumption. We will target consumers based on mood, mindset, and receptivity.

Cilla Snowball, group chairman, group CEO, AMV BBDO
Everything will be wireless, wearable and watchable. Our lives will run simpler and faster; we'll do everything from our watches, phones and key rings. We will be content leaders and we will create content leaders. And, as now, the best work and the best talent will define the winners.

Andrew Essex, vice chairman, Droga5
There will be a rebundling of certain services, after years of unbundling media, creative, digital and PR. It's inevitable that you want that consolidation because it's what's best for the client. It'll change the shape of how agencies look, and it'll be much more efficient. As for TV, the idea that there's a show interrupted by a series of spots will go away. Brands will produce the shows themselves and there will be good content and bad content, not primary content and secondary content. As long as the content is good, the consumer will accept it from anywhere.

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