Will it be the Year of the Racehorse, a madcap gallop for growth, or more of a diligent plod—the Year of the Carthorse perhaps?
My money’s on the Year of the Dressage Pony: A tight contest in which courageous creativity and total precision will be the keys to victory.
So, what are the competition rules?
The big picture
It’s a year in which understanding—and acting on—the bigger trends across Asia will pay dividends.
China seems set fair for continued growth. Successful brands will be those with the analytical power to track the changing needs of the Chinese consumer, and be where they are, from WeChat or Alibaba to breakthrough activation in the lower-tier cities.
India is at a crossroads. No one doubts the country’s commercial savvy or creative flair. But can a more business-friendly climate and investment in infrastructure finally drive growth, or will the general election merely bring a new raft of politics and politicians to slow it all down?
In Southeast Asia, the emerging economies will offer opportunity and uncertainty in equal measure. Take Myanmar: 38 per cent of firms plan to scale up there, whilst 44 per cent have no plans to invest. Ones to watch in 2014? Indonesia and Vietnam.
Digital grows up (again)
The year ahead will see the next-stage maturation of digital, with important implications for our industry. Mobile will reign, with a larger audience than the biggest national media in every market, commanding more time than any other channel.
The interface between product and digital will blur, with customer experience the defining principle. Ogilvy’s establishment of K1ND, our collaborative digital innovation lab, shows one way forward.
Social’s growing up too: With user acquisition saturated, publishers and marketers will look to monetize their communities. That means data-driven targeting, “real-time” content, and a more refined take on consumer behaviour.
Instant-messaging apps will push social CRM, with more personalized brand-consumer interaction. The consumer will be in a state of total digital ‘readiness’ for brands, responsive less to campaigns and more to carefully crafted presence. Dynamic, relevant content is the new currency. Content curation will demand new alliances between brands, agencies and media.
Creativity and people
Speaking of alliances, 2014 will be a year of ‘odd couples’, in which we push the creative boundaries not only with radical work, but also by forging imaginative partnerships, within and beyond our normal ‘training’ boxes.
The business of creativity
My personal mission in 2014? To help foster a more culturally influential Asian creative spirit. And—not unrelated—to help more brands see the bottom-line benefit of investing in creativity.
Paul Heath is the chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific