The brief was simple: look down the road 20 years or so and paint a picture of the next wave of marketing communications (though that designation itself was too short-sighted for some of the participants). Who would be creating the messages, how, and through what kinds of organizations and channels?
Responses vary wildly, though there are recurring themes. Obviously, "stay the course," is absent from the proffered advice on how agencies might prepare for the future, and, also unsurprisingly, there are many and varied predictions of the demise of those who remain tethered to the assumptions and practices that have governed this industry for too long.
The predictions range from the assured forecasting of Martin Sorrell-on the changes in populations, the emerging Asian markets, the shift away from traditional advertising (and away from network TV) and toward interactive, direct and research that will alter the composition of the parent company-to Chris Wall's delightfully dystopian world of panini grill-toting Mumbai orphans raised as an army of ACPs (American Creative People). The always assumption-challenging Johan Kramer begins talking about the ways in which creative entities needs to broaden the scope of their thinking but before too long betrays his own bigger picture sensibilities by daring to assert that communicators in this industry are not just messengers, but bear a responsibility for the ways a consumption-driven culture impacts the planet. Among the other more challenging predictions is Brian Collins' assertion that CDs as we know them will soon be behind glass in museums, and that the future belongs to those who will take an active role in the creation of a brand presence, not just its communication.
Rounding out the future theme: the future stars of photography and illustration, and the back page column, from videogame visionary American McGee, on how interactive entertainment might become a bigger (yet smaller) part of your future. His parting shot is an appropriate query with which to sum up this forward-looking exercise: "Who's going to lead this charge and who's going to be playing catch-up?"