Jonathan Durden: Why marketers lag behind Lily

The UK, and London in particular, is fast becoming the epicentre for setting trends in many industries, and in many guises, but not in marketing.

It is typical that when we find ourselves in the midst of a fiscal version of the “Blitz mentality”, we British have the capacity to most excel and feel most at ease with flaunting our creative inventiveness and talents.

In the Review section of The Times last week, Ben Wardle led with a piece proclaiming a “New golden age for Brit Pop”. It spoke of the Grammy Awards in LA being dominated by a list of British talent: M.I.A., Radiohead, Duffy and Coldplay to name but a few.

Just as CD sales are down 14% year on year, and the money is more centered in ticket sales to live events, there is an upside to the breaking of a monopolistic stranglehold previously enjoyed by the major record labels. Instead of superseding their historic influence by the emergence of the blog release, they have both found a way to work in a complimentary fashion within the food chain.

Lily Allen, having built on the apparently spontaneous success of her first album, has promoted her second album, “It’s not me it’s you”, by skillfully combining a mix of MySpace/viral marketing/PR with a greater reliance on her established record label’s investment and resources to accelerate her profile.

The democratisation of access to raw talent via the internet has highlighted just how much talent is present here on our little island.

The film industry is currently also celebrating a British renaissance, with the likes of Kate Winslet, Kristin Scott Thomas and James McAvoy earning gong nominations and universal critical acclaim. Revolutionary Road director Sam Mendes and Slumdog Millionaire’s Danny Boyle are the hottest Hollywood movie men – homegrown talent once again has shown its mettle in these difficult times.

On ITV last week, Piers Morgan was celebrating the success of us Brits in Hollywood. Currently the yanks adore our actors so much that one in three of their television pilots features a Brit, chosen above the American competition. Britain truly has got talent.

On January 22, Sarah Mower of The Telegraph reported that some of our freshest UK designers are dropping the hemlines of the new season’s skirts and that Milan and Paris are following suit in double-quick time. Prada, Bottega Veneta, D&G and even Versace looked to London, took out their pencil erasers and obeyed.

In the New York Times, their food writer, Julia Moskin, picked up on the growing influence of British chefs, such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who are highlighting the perils of unethical livestock rearing and slaughter techniques. It appears that we are pioneering organic, humane methods which are making American cooks take notice.

Tony Blair, amazingly invited to make an introductory – and hilarious – speech by his “good friend” Barack Obama at their National Prayer Breakfast, is yet another example of Britain being listened to.

Over recent months as the struggling financial leaders have attempted to deal with the world’s banking crisis they turned to an unlikely and, then, domestically unpopular Gordon Brown for an answer and some hope.

And to top it all, there is the hosting of the 2012 Olympics. I truly hope that we witness a return to the spirit of the games. Let us create a more modest and less-Beijing-style posturing exercise as the theme for our global moment. It would be both timely and dignified.

It was interesting, then, that I found, as a judge at the recent Global Vodafone creative awards, the best creative work should emanate from New Zealand and India, not the UK. That is just my humble opinion and does not imply that we are bereft, merely that we are not as pre-eminent in marketing as in other industries.

There is so much evidence of world-class creativity in this country in sectors such as music, film, fashion, food, design and politics, but when it comes to marketing and advertising we risk becoming less appreciated or accomplished.

Surely with this much supporting evidence we must rise to the challenge? Even the advertising networks must notice this trend? This is our moment. Carpe diem.


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