Unleash the ugly
Saatchi's outspoken CEO Kevin Roberts tells Austyn Allison from Communicate that the time for analysis is over. Advertising is going to get ugly.
July 22, 2009 8:01 by Austyn Allison
What needs to change in the way we approach marketing today?
These are really tough times. So, you’d better strap on your bulletproof chest and your waterproof back, because shit is going to come at you for the next 12 months. There is going to be no good news heading your way. So, if you think this is going to be beautiful, if you think this is about Roger Federer, it’s not; it’s about Rafael Nadal. If you think this is about Brazil, it’s about Germany. This is about bad news coming at you, because we’re not in a credit crunch anymore; we’re in a confidence crunch, and that’s much harder to deal with. I want my people to get used to the idea that this is going to be ugly.
Recently you’ve been using the term, “Winning ugly together.” What does that mean?
As a beast, we [men] go to public schools; we play rugby, we’ve gone on cross-country runs, and we get up early, OK? There is nothing deeper in the spirit of man than lying on the field of the battle, bloodied, bruised, his arms around his mate, victorious. Nothing quite beats that.
The ugly part is unleashing that spirit and recognizing it. It means being very decisive, focusing on what’s core and what’s not – and focusing absolutely on what’s core, reinventing the core, transforming it, and eliminating ruthlessly everything that’s not core.
And the winning part is pretty simple, right? The alternative is to lose. There’s going to be a lot of losers in this. We’re not in a recession now, and we’re not in a depression. We’re in a catastrophe.
We’re going to hit the bottom sometime this year and it’s going to level out and we’re going to certainly have to pay for what we consume. It’s a brand new idea for your generation. And it’s a scary idea. There’s going to be winners and losers in this economy. The next 24 months, no matter what business you’re in, is all about simplicity, consolidation, and gaining market share at the expense of a competitor.
This is not one of these nice, beautiful win-win things that the media likes to talk about. This isn’t going to happen, baby. You’re going to have to win because, if not, you’re going to lose.