Proctor said the industry is being crippled by conservatism, “crushing procurement” and a culture of not challenging the norm, adding that this cycle must be broken if Asia is to meet the expectations for the region globally.
Proctor started his keynote address ominously, outlining that he had some good and bad news about the state of the industry in Asia.
No part of the industry was left unscathed as Proctor said the quality of marketing, creativity and media in Asia-Pacific is a “rather mixed scorecard”.
“I would say, overall, the business in Asia-Pacific is still a follower rather than a leader,” he said. “If you look at the whole body of work that has been entered into this festival… you would conclude that we still have to make a lot of progress.”
Proctor said while there are examples of world-class work, there is not enough of it and it comes from far too few places in the region.
“I think in terms of the geographic split, you kind of end up concluding, ‘Thank God for Australia’,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Australia, then the creative output, and India for media awards, would be rather sad.”
He said that the industry should be growing a lot faster, suggesting that it has not kept pace, in terms of quality and output, with the macroeconomic growth across the region.
While Asia faces challenges of deep-rooted cultural issues, with risk-averse clients, many agencies have not been brave or smart enough to challenge these accepted norms, he said.
“We have to break this cycle of conservatism, too-rapid turnover of marketing staff, the crush of procurement deals we are accepting, and the culture of not challenging the norms,” he said. “What I am really saying, frankly, is that the world expects Asia to do better, to lead from here, rather than to follow.
He said agencies must ask themselves three key questions: is your organisation fit for purpose, investing enough in innovation and creativity and making enough efforts in integration.
He said data will underpin the whole industry going forward, with future agencies needing the skills and tools to quickly and seamlessly collect, analyse, manipulate and use data from multiple devices in real time.
In this new world, agencies will need to advise clients on branding, pricing and distribution models.
“So ask yourself if your agency is really developing an adaptive marketing capacity capability where it has real-time media planners and buyers who analyse data to constantly optimise the expenditures they are responsible for,” he said.
Proctor concluded his wide-ranging speech by outlining the good news he alluded to at the beginning. He said Asia-Pacific has been “phenomenal” in developing leadership talent, but added that agencies must step up and take recruitment of talent more seriously.
"I am always inspired coming to Asia, [but] I am disappointed generally about the breadth of the body of work in terms of the quality and the number of places it is coming from," he said. "I think we owe it to ourselves and all the talent we are bringing into the business to take the opportunity now and forge ahead."