Build the future, don’t fear it
In times of uncertainty, marketers must use their skills to lead the way. WFA CEO, Stephan Loerke, reflects on the success stories from 2022 and what to expect from 2023.
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One could be forgiven for having the curious sense of having been on a roller coaster in 2022. The excitement of coming out of a global pandemic quickly subsided with the brutal war of aggression of Russia against Ukraine and its global consequences: the energy crisis, double-digit inflation and a looming recession.
Indeed, according to The New York Times, “Uncertainty” was the Word of the Year for 2022.
Uncertainty can be contagious and feed a sense of gloom. But I would argue that marketers are made of sterner stuff. In our DNA, we’re optimists. We see opportunities where others see threats and disruption. That’s what drives us to create, innovate and out-compete our competitors. That’s what makes us embrace the future.
I don’t know what 2023 has in store for us. But what I do know is that the ad industry is finally stepping up. We’re finally starting to address the big issues that we’ve been putting off for far too long.
And I’m particularly proud to say that WFA played a key role in 2022 in making important progress on some of them. Let me just mention three of them:
Climate: CMOs are becoming climate champions in their companies. Thirty of the world’s largest brands have now signed up to the WFA Planet Pledge. They leverage what marketers are best at – creativity, innovation and communication – to drive consumer behaviour change. And they are also taking very practical steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their media campaigns – by joining the WFA pilot project with Scope3.
Brand safety: Elon Musk and Twitter were in the spotlight late last year and the WFA-led Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) stepped in to extract a clear commitment from the new Twitter owner to its brand safety standards. These have now become the norm that all major platforms have signed up to globally.
Cross-media measurement: The WFA’s vision for establishing a cross-media measurement solution that responds to advertiser needs is taking shape. Built on the “WFA Advertiser North Star” vision, it has now moved to building the common components (Halo programme) that will be used in the local programmes independently run by our partner associations ISBA in the UK and ANA in the USA. It is a Copernican revolution for media measurement in-the-making.
Brand marketers are rallying around these programmes and growing the WFA membership. In 2022, corporate membership grew by over 10%. That is a great vote of confidence from our industry.
But we’re not going to slow down any time soon. The context may well remain uncertain in 2023, but the best way to build the future is to shape it.