For Halloween, We Asked Marketers What Spooks Them About the Industry

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(For our daily newsletter, First Things First, we provide tips on career and workplace strategy. You can sign up for FTF here, and if you’re interested in receiving our culture and workplace surveys, email me.)

Every Halloween, marketers do their best to spook consumers with ads and activations like Budweiser promoting responsible drinking with costumed mugshots and Reese’s candy vending machines, but what scares them about the ad industry? We asked marketers to share what are the bone-chilling parts of their jobs and the industry they work in.

Fiona Bruder, evp, client success, George P. Johnson
With so many new brands and agencies jumping into the experiential marketing moment, I’m afraid that some are selling themselves short with transparent activations that are little more than Instagram opportunities. Experiential should be strategic and engaging, with physical and digital content that inspires and delights, but also delivers on specific objectives for the clients. 

Bill Cochran, creative group head, The Richards Group
The possibility of .5-second ad units and a data-driven copywriting artificial intelligence that can write smart-ass survey answers better than I can.

Kelli Miller, creative director and partner, And/Or
As a small-business owner, the scariest thing is the red line in our cash flow and its ever-present creep. That pressure can force difficult decisions about what work to take on. … Even if our intention is to be selective about the work we create, sometimes we need to feed the monster.

Max Ottignon, co-founder, Ragged Edge
Branding is about turning complex concepts into simple, meaningful ideas. But if we’re so good at that, why have we done such a bad job at branding? Ask 10 people to define branding, and you’ll get 10 frighteningly different answers. And if we can’t agree on what we offer, what right do we have to tell other people what they offer?

Marie Myszkowski, evp, managing director, Spark Foundry
As the media industry has evolved, the shifting levels of complexity and fragmentation have made our jobs more difficult, but also more interesting and that much more important. While recommending a new medium or platform to a client is scary, the risk is always worth it when we see that we are able to contribute to our client’s bottom line.

Maggie O. Connors, evp, head of business development, Deutsch New York
As (a very competitive) head of new business, this one is easy—LOSING! Also, as the agency matchmaker, I am often fearful of whether the partnerships we win will be the best fit for us and our mission.

Anda Gansca, CEO and co-founder of Knotch
What frightens me about the marketing industry today is that we’re facing a real lack of transparent, accurate data. Oftentimes, the incentive structures behind data reporting prevent transparent, trusted data getting back to brands in real time. This has led us to a place where trust is a difficult currency to earn in the industry for decision-makers.

Jennifer DaSilva, president, Berlin Cameron
What scares me about my job is that I’m not able to better address the mental health and wellness needs of my team. We’ve tried to address the issue by treating each employee’s needs individually, having a more open dialogue with our team, as well as tools like WPP’s Ginger emotional support app and 24/7 emergency hotline (where someone actually answers), but we’re still not doing enough.

Selena Pizarro, svp, director of video production, RPA
People who insist on trying to templatize the art of advertising.

Juergen Dold, CEO, Optimist Inc.
I have the most fun job in the world, but sometimes it’s scary. I find myself waking up with cold sweats in the middle of the night with a few nightmare scenarios playing out vividly in my sleep-drunken mind: For example, I’ll be getting ready to present to a big room of tough critics at our agency’s top client and I won’t be able to get a straight sentence out. No matter what the track record is, agencies are always one bad show away from getting fired.

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