Russell Parsons: Marketing will be as vital in 40 years as it is today

In may be a contradiction, but as we celebrate Marketing Week’s 40th birthday, it’s fair to say everything and nothing has changed. One thing is for sure, though, marketing will be as critical in the future as it is right now.

40th

Although I wasn’t yet of school age in 1978, I am not going out on a limb to say the business world was very different to the one we inhabit today.

Despite the advances of the 1960s, it was a world still recovering from post-war austerity and defined by an accepted order of doing business.

As the 1970s drew to a close, the free-market economics, privatisation, creeping globalisation, technology leaps and sector consolidation that only a few years later would define commerce for decades to come might have seemed as unlikely as Boney M continuing their record-breaking run of success into the 1980s.

It was prescient of editor Michael Chamberlain and managing director Anthony Nares, then, to launch a weekly title dedicated to marketing, considering the seismic macroeconomic shifts that would accelerate the growth of the ecosystem. Chamberlain says it was his assertion that “marketing was becoming mainstream”, however, that rings out to me; the natural conclusion being it had been anything but previously.

Considering the transformative role marketing and marketers have played in business success since, the fact that marketing was not commonplace seems as quaint a notion as The Brotherhood of Man, air hockey, Charlie’s Angels and other late 70s pop culture ephemera.

The campaigns, trends and legends of our lifetime will feature in a series of articles over the coming weeks to celebrate Marketing Week’s 40th anniversary. It is a shameless look back at the people, events and brands that have brought us to where we are today. It’s also a celebration of Marketing Week’s place in the history of modern marketing.

READ MORE: The nation’s favourite marketing campaigns revealed

Everything and nothing has changed

Extrapolating a conclusion from this wonderful retrospective is not easy but I will plump for
this complete contradiction: everything and nothing has changed. Finding and meeting the needs of your customers should still be your starting point – it’s just there are hundreds of new ways to innovate and communicate.

For all the macro challenges, bad practice and attacks on its purpose, it is a wonderful time to be a marketer, and to be editor of Marketing Week. Someone asked me recently whether I would launch Marketing Week in 2018. Discounting the vagaries of modern publishing, my answer was unequivocally yes.

From the pressure of defining and proving effectiveness in the digital age to turning billions of data points into actionable insight; from disruption anxiety to building products and services to last in an era of transiency, there is plenty for you to navigate now and in the future.

Marketing Week, as the only title dedicated to marketing and marketers in the UK, is as vital as ever in this role. Marketing Week – about marketing, for marketers. Here’s to the next 40 years!

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