‘Confusion is good’ – IPG CEO Michael Roth on the state of marketing

Confusion in the marketing space is good, marketers need to embrace social good and creativity should never be underestimated – three key points that Interpublic Group (IPG) CEO Michael Roth stressed are important in marketing today.

Speaking at the Dmexco conference in Cologne this morning, Roth said that despite the mixed messaging around employing the use of data versus creativity to drive messaging to consumers, this turbulence in the industry is actually beneficial.

He said: “Confusion is good. Because whenever you have this type of confusion come in to the market place someone has to make sense of it, and frankly with all the tools your head can explode.

“In terms of ‘how can you go to market? How do you utilise all these opportunities that are out there?’ Frankly that’s where we [the industry] come into the picture. Someone has to have those insights and help our creatives navigate through this difficult and crazy environment.”

Roth also advocated brands employing “social good” in a world that is growing exponentially in terms of population, and highlighted the need for marketers to take heed of the shift that is happening in terms of consumer behaviour.

“We have to embrace social good. From a marketing point of view consumers are willing to pay a premium for a product that embraces social good. Is it more likely that the millennials are more likely to embrace social good, than non-millennials? The answer is yes. That is a factor we have to take in to consideration in terms of communicating with the consumer.”

“Individuals like to work with a company that embraces social good, from a recruiting point of view it’s an important factor, from a marketing point of view it’s an important factor and from a quality of life point of view it’s an important factor. Embracing social good in messaging is a critical component of how we’re going to be successful in the future.”

Roth drew on an example of work with Coca-Cola in Peru where the drinks brand embarked on a campaign to make the usually “unhappy” public smile by situating free photo booths to take pictures for ID cards.  

Creativity was a key theme in Roth’s keynote and he placed emphasis on the importance of using it in consumer messaging despite data driving the consumer experience and marketing intelligence and communication. Without it, he argued, brands would not be able to deliver successful campaigns that fuel consumer relationships.

“If it wasn’t for the creativity that goes into the insights that we learn, we could never deliver the [successful] type of messages that I’m going to share with you right now.

“You need a talent base that is well versed in all the technology that is necessary to bring it to life, and so our entire talent base has shifted to individuals who are not only creative but they understand the importance of what they do in the messaging and how messaging relates to the consumer.”

Roth also raised the notion that brands will have to engage consumers using experiential campaigns in the future as the “purchasing funnel as we learned it” has gone, as real time experiences increasingly drive purchasing.

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