A Wishlist for the Industry in 2011

Editorial: Though Economic Challenges Persist, Here's What We're Hoping the New Year Will Bring

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It seems like only yesterday we were easing out of the recession with one big wish for 2010: That our economy, and industry, recover. Twelve months later, we've witnessed 2,600 ad agency jobs and 7,500 media jobs added and encouraging consumer spending, especially during the holidays. Economic challenges persist, but we're focusing our 2011 wishlist on other pressing issues. Here's what we'd like to see.

We hope this is the year the advertising industry finally makes some headway in its diversity hiring and promoting. Programs such as Brand Lab are good starts, but there needs to be a real commitment to hiring and nurturing this talent once they're ready to enter the workforce.

We hope the industry doesn't fall complacent with Republicans controlling Congress. It may be the traditionally business-friendly party but, as we mentioned after the midterm elections, a divided Washington could find common ground in a few significant marketing issues: marketing to children; the obesity epidemic "caused" by fast food and fast-food advertising; pharmaceutical advertising; cable monopolies; and internet privacy and behavioral targeting. To stave off such threats, the industry needs to continue to hold itself to higher standards than are expected of it.

Speaking of behavioral targeting, we hope the FTC doesn't cut off the consumer benefits of behavioral targeting. We are all for transparency and respecting the wishes of those who want to opt out of tracking, and we applaud the efforts a cadre of industry organizations have made to help ensure this is easier and more clear. But the industry needs to do a better job of explaining the advantages of consumers getting ads for products they're interested in. Without being able to direct ads to people who will be the most receptive, the ad industry's ultimate goal of waste-free advertising will never become reality.

And this, a holiday wish: That we finally cut down on the over-the-top packaging that accompanies nearly every product. How many parents saw through sheaths of plastic and cardboard to free their children's toy action figures from packaging captivity or waded through the mountain of styrofoam that protected their new iPhone dock during shipping? According to a recent New York Times post, some studies suggest "as much as half of household trash is extraneous packaging." There's got to be a better way, and companies like Walmart, with its challenge to get vendors to cut carbon footprints, and Amazon, in its push toward "frustration-free packaging," are starting to point toward it.

We're sure we've overlooked a few things on your radar. Let us know your wishlist for the industry in 2011. Drop us a line at adageeditor@adage.com.

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