The Time Has Come to Say Goodbye

4 Dec 2015

The time has come to say Goodbye. It's been a privilege and an honour to be able to serve as Chair of the APG for the last two years.

 

Even during the these two years, the change in our industry has been vast: Adspend in the UK has hit an all time high, You Tube has reached 100% penetration of 16-34 yr olds, video is everywhere with Snapchat claiming 6billion video views daily. There is the real possibility of regulatory interference via a sugar tax, programmatic media has already embedded itself across the industry and adblockers lurk on the horizon. To top it all, 2015 has been the year that the world's online media consumption overtook TV.

 

Well, we can't claim changes of that magnitude at the APG but we have evolved quite a bit over the last two years. Sarah Newman and her team have expanded, as we welcomed Lexi and Alison to help manage an ever-growing membership and longer list of initiatives to undertake. And a wonderful job they have done too.

 

We introduced exciting new training courses, and covered everything from core planning skills to effectiveness and planning leadership. And have trained over 700 planners in just 24 months. We have had some of the industry's top CSOs share with us what it takes to be one. And we've seen young planners fight it out to reposition the Big Mac and win the APG Young Planners Award.

 

We redesigned our logo and re-expressed our raison d'etre as 'Inspiring Bold Exchanges' to redress the balance between presentation and conversation, encouraging the sharing of ideas, inspiration and debate across the community. We rebuilt the website to encourage more knowledge-sharing and sociability too.

 

We have noisily debated what it means to be 21st Century ready, to create influential communications, and what really counts as an insight. We have traced the history of Strategy and forecast where it might be going (with Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, at the APG Annual Conference) and what strategy even is in 2015.

 

The APG Creative Strategy Awards are the jewel in our crown and this year was no exception, with more submissions than ever, a higher standard than ever, and a bigger awards party than ever. Truly inspiring winners across all categories culminated in the Grand Prix being awarded to the team responsible for This Girl Can; a ground-breaking, and glass-breaking, inspiring call to arms that we hope will cement itself in our culture and help young (and old) girls stay fit and healthy and well. Such is the influence that advertising can have, when at its best.

 

The last two years have been a personal evolution too. Moving from CSO in an ad agency, focused on making ads, to starting my own company, studying foresight. Future-proofing brands, working directly with a variety of super clients, and start-ups, in the innovation space, has been refreshing. I also had the pleasure of writing a book with John Griffiths which traces the origins of account planning, based on our interviews with the first ever 20 planners (at JWT and BMP). All of this experience has consolidated my view that we are, as an industry, too short-term focused and lacking in confidence to present more visionary, longer-term roadmaps for brands. And I hope that everything that we've done in the APG over the last two years has been to help planners and strategists think further out and act with a longer-term idea in mind.

 

I am off to an even fresher venture in Futures, but I leave everything in the very capable hands of Dom Boyd, who I am delighted to say has accepted the role as the next Chair of the APG. Dom is one of the nicest, most thoughtful and most committed planners in the industry, and coupled with the fact that he leads the planning function at one of the best-known, most awarded, and exciting agencies there is, the committee was unanimous in agreeing him as the next Chair. He will bring care, commitment and bags of creativity to the role, and I wish him tremendous luck and enjoyment in making the next two years of his tenure, his own.

 

There is one very special person to thank, and that is Sarah Newman. Sarah has not just managed but master-minded much of the APG's evolution, she is a terrific partner to the Chair, and has become a true friend over time. She is the APG's best asset, and no matter who is, or has been, or who will be Chair in the future, Sarah is the guardian and custodian of all that is great and all that is good about this wonderful organization. And long may she continue.

 

I thank everyone from our sponsors, to our training delegates; from my supportive and professional committee, to the whole of the APG office team; from Craig my predecessor, to Dom my successor. But especially thank you. As a member, you help to make the APG what it is, thank you for your ongoing commitment and involvement in the APG and its future. 

 

 

Tracey Follows

APG Chair 2013-2015

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