DDB Sydney’s Chief Strategy Officer Fran Clayton speaks to The Australian on what will drive effectiveness in 2023


The year ahead is set to be defined by talent, tech and creative agility as industry leaders share their outlook.


Mim Haysom
Executive general manager, brand and marketing, Suncorp.

“Uncertainty creates both great responsibility and great opportunity for brands. Brands need to increase engagement with their customers, understand their changing needs and better meet those needs through relevant products, services and information. As marketers, to be successful in this environment we need to tap into all of the capabilities we’ve built in our toolkits. Technology is a key enabler of Suncorp’s strategy and is instrumental in unleashing the digitalisation of data and automation to achieve the group’s strategic outcomes, of which personalised CX is paramount. Creativity gives us the power to differentiate and stand apart from our competition. We have to draw on all of these ‘super powers’ to thrive during times of uncertainty.”

“No one can predict if we’ll be booming or in recession by year end (same as last year and the year before). And talent is in short supply. (There are) not enough marketing people and they are seriously under-educated. So I expect senior marketers to try to avoid doing new things and instead focus on working out what they can stop doing (eg consumer promotions, econometric modelling) and increasingly automating routine things that can be automated. While spending on developing their staff to be better informed, critical thinking decision makers. I expect the ‘social media sweatshops’ to be replaced by AI.”

Professor Byron Sharp
Director, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute University of SA

Fran Clayton
Chief strategy officer, DDB

“I think that there’s ever more pressure on creativity to be money well spent. Creativity has to work harder than ever before. Every dollar will be scrutinised by marketers and boards, but also it gets harder and harder to earn and win people’s attention. I think the bar for creativity continues to be raised. And that is the power of creativity is that it has the potential to kind of overcome some of these challenges when it comes to getting people’s attention, and making a dollar spent really pay back. That is the advantage that creativity can bring. So that effectiveness focus, and that link between creativity and effectiveness is so well proven. This is the year of effectiveness. This is the year where budgets will be put under a microscope and we all want to see our work really working. And nothing drives effectiveness harder than creativity.”

Kirsty Muddle
Chief executive, Dentsu Creative

“If I was to choose an angle it’s almost off the back of 2022, it was the best of times and the worst of times in many ways for everybody. So you’ve got the best of times we came through Covid, there’s a resilience, there’s a level of appetite for innovation, and that was moving forward. But it was also the worst of times, because the market was generally sluggish.

“Everyone’s looking at economic headwinds, wondering what’s going to happen to global markets that go into recession and the impact that will therefore happen to us and to our budgets for some of our clients. But the residual effect of that is that I genuinely feel that it’s a year where people have been moving so fast. I’m getting the impression that this year is just about revitalisation. And people are looking to slow down to gather pace. So as opposed to being super reactionary, because we have been, and responsive to the immediate environment, people are starting to take a longer term view again. And so we’re looking at the role of brands, the role of long term innovation, not just short term rapid innovation, because Covid kind of forced that upon us. To sum it up, that’s where I’m feeling the momentum in the market.”

Stephen McArdle
Chief executive, BMF

“We’ll double down on creativity. People want to go to brands that they know are going to deliver the very best products. Building our capabilities is what we’ve been pushing in, and content production, social, branding and design. All of those things are things we’re investing in and pushing. But ultimately, when it comes down to it, it’s back to our belief in brand building and brand resilience. For this year, that’s what it’s all about.

“In an increasingly gloomy macro-economic environment, company culture only gets more important. To thrive, rather than just survive, it’s imperative we create a place where people feel safe and supported, a place which allows people to experiment and fail in the quest for work that is fresh, distinctive and effective.

“Doing this breeds creativity and bravery, which in turn inspires clients to believe in the type of work that will ensure they win. Which they will. Without it we’ll be inundated with homogenised mediocrity that consumers will do their best to avoid, thereby wasting the marketing investment that is so critical to unlocking business growth, which is only going to become increasingly hard to find.”

Professor Karen Nelson-Field PhD
Founder and chief executive, Amplified Intelligence

“What I’m seeing is agencies readjusting their forecast, because brands don’t want their brands to decline in a down year. We’re seeing optimistic forecasts for growth. But what’s interesting for us as a particular business, is that we fit into the efficiency space. Mark Zuckerberg was talking about 2023 as the year of efficiency. And we fit right into that, because we weed out the ineffective advertising through the products that we have.

“Creative is vital. Once you‘ve got an ad in front of your face, if the ad can’t be attributed to the brand, that advertising is a failure. So it’s 100 per cent critical in taking someone from seeing the ad to buying the product. But the problem that most people don’t understand, is what I’m solving is getting it in front of someone’s face. So if you’ve got extremely well grounded, emotional, interesting, creative, but it doesn’t have the opportunity to get attention because of the platform mechanics, that is useless.”

Rhys Ryan
Chief executive, Porter Novelli

“The talent drought isn’t getting any better in Australia. Our clients are finding that their work still needs to get done. Even in a B2B environment, it’s constrained resources so that there’s this overflow of creative and consulting work that has to go out because our clients simply can’t get the people they need.

“The hype around AI and ChatGPT is fun, but it’s misplaced. In an environment of constrained resources, when we have to do more with less, we will be under more pressure to automate rote tasks so consultants and creative leaders still have the resources to focus on higher-order issues.”

“Brands are trying to demonstrate a values-based alignment with audiences. But this year brands are going to need creative leadership in solving real problems for everyday people, consumers and end users. And we have to be thinking ‘How can we use technology?’ But more importantly, ‘How do we use real creativity to solve real problems for people?’ And that might include helping brands with product development so we can do more with less in a more sustainable way, it might be helping them create new marketplaces or new ways to market or new market entry offshore.”

Dan Ferguson
Chief marketing officer, Adore Beauty

“Against the backdrop of tightening budgets and economic uncertainty there‘s fresh mandate for change in any marketing function. As an initial point the plethora of martech tools and platforms that has grown over recent years will be tested with the most effective components becoming the new baseline whilst others will fade.

“Brands, businesses and marketing teams in particular may also need to address concerns that audiences have, such as ‘how can I feel financially secure’, ’what costs are most important to me’, and ’which brands can I trust for value’. Responses might vary from leveraging messages of explicit value – discounts, promises, benefits – to those of implicit value – education, information, curation, quality. At Adore, for example, a value we often communicate is the power and benefit of education and information to our customer that helps avoid a bathroom cabinet of unused and irrelevant products.

“No matter the blend that brands take this year it will be vital to understand what your customer wants as that might shift and be able to frame your message, experience as well as value in the most relevant terms.”

First published via The Australian