Word of the Year

Last week I was (I think entirely justifiably) snooty about predictions. The Cog Blog doesn’t make predictions – if only because of an entirely rational fear of being called out a year later for getting them hopelessly wrong.

I was once called to account on a public platform by the great Ray Snoddy for something I had predicted on stage at the Edinburgh TV Festival over 10 years before. I still bear the scars.

I have though noticed a couple of new trends. One – predictions for the decade. Unless you’re either a) hugely big-brained and have invented a time machine, or b) so arrogant that the fear of being challenged, let alone being proved wrong simply never occurs to you, these are to be avoided at all costs.

The second trend is ‘word of the year’. Now, this I can deal with. Several people have already come up with their ‘media word of the year’. For example, the ANA in the US declared on December 4th that ‘personalisation’ is their word of 2019. I thought word of the year was a forward-looking thing, but apparently it can be awarded retrospectively as well.

A tad ironically, two days earlier Gartner had issued a report in which they stated: “By 2025, 80% of marketers who have invested in personalization will abandon their efforts..”

Mind you, kudos to the ANA. It makes a lot of sense acting retrospectively, especially if a respected consultancy has, just two days before indicated that however strong the concept it does rather depend on data excellence to deliver to it.

Writing in ‘Campaign’ Ian Darby went with ‘honesty’ as the byword for strategic thinking in 2020. It’s a quality that has been in short supply as the media and ad tech industries make it their mission to explain technological issues in a way that is long on confusion and short on honest explanation.

In relation to honesty in branding I can do no better than quote Ian, quoting Jim Carroll, chair of the Creative Strategy Awards judges at Cannes: “In the age of transparency, brands need to be prepared to recognise their flaws and failings – indeed, sometimes to celebrate them. This entails being positive and proactive around issues that were hitherto regarded as unappealing and unattractive. It means telling the truth.”

A challenge for some brands – notably some of our favourite platforms.

IDComms decided on ‘simplify’ as their word of 2020 and they have a point. We could all do with remembering simple principles and applying them to our ever more complicated world.

As they were in the mood to hand out awards, IDComms made Bob Hoffman, the AdContrarian their media man of the year.

I’m a huge admirer of Bob’s, like him enormously and am a loyal reader of his blog. But there must be some media practitioners out there who can mount a challenge? Where are the thought leaders; the provocateurs; the shakers-of-trees; the challengers of convention in the media agency or vendor worlds?

We need more Bobs. In fact, we need a media Bob. Even a second-hand Bob will do it for us.

And so – with a roll of drums the Cog Blog can reveal its word of 2020. It’s ‘trust’.

We could all do with agencies regaining the trust of their clients; and consumers feeling that they can trust the media they consume. At the moment trust is in short supply.

Simple, honest and trustworthy. Applied personally of course. It will never catch on.

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