C&G CEO Boboy Consunji: advertising and media agencies need to create, innovate, or die

Long-time Campaigns & Grey Philippines stalwart and now CEO Boboy Consunji gave his take on the state of the advertising industry in the Philippines and beyond.


What are key transformational shifts you see affecting the advertising industry which will have the strongest impact this year?

The Talent Challenge.  The workforce is getting younger and younger.  It appears that millennials now outnumber the Gen X’ers and those from my generation.  Ironically, it’s harder and harder to attract and retain talent.  Companies have to earnestly find ways to respond to what young people want: the craving for experiences, work-life balance even at their early stages of work, excellent compensation and benefits, a strong career path, connection with work.

The Desensitization to Online Clutter.  Everyone in marketing and advertising, whether big or small, wants to get more active online.  As a result, we see millions and millions of Twitter conversations, Facebook posts, and content in whatever form.  It’s relatively easy to circulate brand messages online.  But now, it’s increasingly difficult to engage a millennial demographic who reject traditional approaches online.  They look for authenticity in marketing, brand purpose, socially relevant narratives, a holistic customer experience that may extend offline.

The Power of Procurement.  We are witness to the increase in the role of procurement from the advertiser’s side.  The need to achieve more aggressive savings and greater efficiencies continues to be more and more significant.  Procurement officers are now operating independently from Marketing and are getting to be more visible in handling supplier-onboarding and agency-engagement negotiations.  Established client-agency relationships are challenged, threatened.

How are you and your network adapting to the changes in the business environment? What measures are your taking and how are you leading for your company and its people to tide and thrive?

If you’d like to adapt to the disruption caused by the digital world, you’d have to want to be a digital maturing company.  It’s quite obvious that investments would have to be made on software, hardware, processes, training and talent that are aligned with the digital transformation.  Your brand purpose or corporate vision would have to be redefined to conform to such changes, and continue to provide value to your people and your clients.

The world continues to change at an even more rapid pace, and an organization like ours has to be responsive and fluid to such changes, especially those happening at businesses that we serve.  The organizational structure is never static, unlike in the analog world where silos remained unchanged for decades.  If a new type of skill is needed, or a particular platform promises greater revenue and efficiencies, we react and restructure accordingly.

So, the headcount at Grey is more precious than ever.  Everyone needs to be digitally savvy.  Everyone has to be ready to take on many hats when a challenge or opportunity comes along.  Everyone must want to be part of a continuing journey.

Yet, everyone has to be more than just digitally savvy.  It’s easy enough to know how that world works.  One must still have the smarts that has sustained the agency through three decades: a competitive, unfailing, differentiating competitive spirit.  That includes the creative appreciation of data and analytics, too.

What is the best thing that will happen to our industry this year?

At the Ad Summit and Agency of the Year Awards, we will surely see how much our industry has fully embraced digital.  The entries will be practically all-digital.  We will demonstrate how successfully our industry has shifted to digital, and how well (and more effectively) we’ve harnessed the creativity we’ve applied in the old world.

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