The 10 Most Important Things Don Draper and R.H. Macy Would Have Learned at Advertising Week

advertisingweekAdvertising and marketing have morphed significantly since the days of the creation of Macy’s retail stores in 1858 or the 1960’s fictional advertising career of Don Draper of “Mad Men.” At this year’s Advertising Week conference in Times Square, it was more apparent that these changes are happening at such lightning speed that even Don Draper would have no idea where it is all going. The advent of digital advertising, the dominance of mobile smart phones, the expansion of social media and crowdsourcing into new frontiers, and the emergence of the Millennial Generation Y attitude all are shaping the future of brands, retail, and online experiences in ways that we could never have imagined even five years ago.


I had the privilege of attending Advertising Week this week here in New York, and these are 10 insights that Don Draper and R.H. Macy would need to know if they were going to survive and thrive in this new age:

1. Mobile is the future of online experiences, social media, and retail. If your organization does not have a mobile app, it is losing the present and future. Eighty eight percent of residents of Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities have smart phones. Seventy two percent of mobile users download at least one app per week. The future of digital and mobile technology is in inter-apptivity: the interaction of apps to share information to create more personalized and customized experiences.

2. The secret to the success of any brand, product or idea: Find something you hate to experience, create a solution, and you will have solved the same problem for others. Take a complex idea and make it simple. Then take that idea and make it compelling.

3. Content is dead. Advertising may be. Long live storytelling and authentic customer experiences.

4. Retailers already have morphed into publishers. Now retail must become technology companies. The next hires they should make should be digital engineers to marry the in store and online shopping experience. Showrooming and crowdsourcing online are the future of retail, as well as pop up shops such as in New York (cupcakes, food) and San Francisco (a suit shop).

5. Data is important. Algorithms are critical. But the human connection to the heart is still what matters most in advertising  and marketing. “Every brand is human, and every human a brand.” Chris Malone, Fortune. Creativity and human connection will become the last competitive advantage.

6. Those who are concerned that online data makes them more known to stores and brands are forgetting that this is exactly how retail was experienced 50 years ago, and digital is helping us recover that personal connection in hospitality and retail that was lost until new technologies make it possible again.

7. The point of connection and engagement with the customer is getting closer and closer to the point of the transaction through online and mobile, and retail and luxury brands that integrate online experiences with the “in store” experience so that they interact and are seemless will be the brands that Millennials will love.

8. Successful brands welcome online customer feedback and reviews, and they take the negative ones seriously and make them the subject of immediate response or action. “Every online negative review has 3 zeroes after it.” Brad Oberwager, Baresnacks. 75% of customers say that they trust online reviews as much as they trust the opinion of family and friends.

9. Millennials ARE loyal to brands, but to brands that earn their trust. Brands and products that appeal to Millennials must be authentic in their marketing, sustainable in their production and transparent about their origins. Marketing that tells real human stories and invites community experiences resonate. BMW’s i3 is made in a factory 100% powered by wind turbines and the car is made of 99% recyclable materials. NBC Universal’s Curve Report found that 78% of 25-40 year olds say that where a product is made, and who made it, matter to them in their purchasing decision.

10. Live and schedule every day for the eulogy you want, and not for the resume you wish you had. Arianna Huffington

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