My life in advertising: Paul Frampton | M&M Global

My life in advertising: Paul Frampton

Paul Frampton, managing director at Havas Media Group, reflects on the importance of good content, and why he would ban the term ‘native advertising’.

Paul Frampton

During this time of phenomenal change in the industry, what are clients looking for in their agencies?

It’s a very uncertain time for clients. There’s immense pressure on them to build the brand story, own the customer and master the ever-advancing technology that customers are using. So, in this climate, first and foremost clients need agencies they can trust. They also need agencies which can help them understand their customers – deeply – and carve out a clear, credible purpose in a world that now demands this as part of a brand’s proposition.

Increasingly, clients also need support up-skilling in digital and technology, as well as over-coming entrenched, limiting siloes and measuring ROI in a multichannel world. In my opinion, good agencies support this transformation agenda; great agencies lead the journey.

What have been the most notable changes in the advertising industry since your career began?

Quite simply, the internet. Can any of us now even imagine a time when it didn’t exist? It has turned the traditional model of advertising on its head. It has fuelled more change in the last ten years than we’ve seen in the last fifty.

This pace of change will speed up, too, as technology provides the opportunity for a better, smarter communications model on every level; targeting, engagement, feedback and measurement. But I’m not one of these prophets of marketing doom who likes to hail the death of ‘old’ channels in favour of ‘new’. No, I believe that we should not talk about channels dying but instead about these morphing and connecting, both with each other, and new emerging channels.

The near future will be about stitching back together all that we have undone in the last fifteen years.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

Going from running a single agency to a group of more than ten different agency brands. Successfully balancing the ‘fame and fortune’ of each individual agency brand, while also building an overriding story for our masterbrand Havas, is not for the faint hearted.

Change management is certainly a complex beast, but I have learnt that ultimately it comes down to having a very clear vision. Then it’s about engaging people, communication and relationships. Get these right and the rest will follow.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I’d hope my colleagues would describe it as progressive and collaborative. I quickly learnt that there is a big difference between leading and managing; trusting those who work for you and giving them autonomy is fundamental to success today. I’ve also learnt the huge importance of being accessible, as well as fallible; two characteristics crucial to modern leadership.

One of the aspects of being a leader I particularly relish is inspiring people and energising them to get behind the company’s vision. I find that the best way to convey this vision, which I also relish, is through storytelling, whether I’m on a conference platform or on social media.

I’m a vehement believer in ‘social leadership’ rather than just ‘thought leadership’ – that’s to say that I don’t believe in being locked away in my ivory tower, or a sterile boardroom, but prefer to be at the heart of the business, actively sharing and talking to people across the company.

In my (humble) opinion, leaders from all walks of the marketing and communications industry should be pioneering this change in their own businesses and lobbying their senior teams to lean in to social leadership.

At Havas – we have already embarked on this journey with our #havastogether and #meaningfulplacetowork initiatives which capture some of our talent engagement programs, designed to provide the platform for our people to help paint our stories in their own, individual ways.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?

There are three main mantras I learnt from the potent combination of Mark Craze and Marc Mendoza. Firstly, ruthlessly prioritise every day. Secondly, worry about no more than three big things at a time. And lastly, if you’re struggling with a project, always go back to the basics of assigning top talent and clear ownership and success will follow.

If you could pick one media platform that currently offers the greatest potential, which would it be and why?

For me, it’s content. But not content as we know it today. In 2015, consumers are still bombarded with irrelevant, dull, irritating, interruptive messages from brands.

However, there will be a time – and soon – when this is no longer tolerated, especially by the tech-savvy, uber-demanding millennial generation. We are entering an age where brands are no longer confined to paying to advertise around content. Today, they can define, produce and distribute the content to audiences themselves.

The brands that will survive in future will be those that harness the powerful combination of content and data, allowing this fusion to inform content strategies which are timely, personal and valued. That is the future of this industry, a future which is just around the corner thanks to the rapid rise of the mobile phone as the ‘first’ screen and a more personal advertising experience.

If you could pick a single industry buzzword you could ban, what would it be and why?

Native advertising. The fact that there is still confusion over what this even means is a sure sign this buzzword is not helping anyone. Even worse, it’s spawned a whole raft of related buzzwords from sponsored content to branded entertainment.

It all basically means the same thing in today’s marketing landscape: information from brands which is in keeping with, and relevant to, the media platform on which it appears. Ergo, it’s surely just good advertising, isn’t it? So why confuse everyone by calling it native?

What are your passions outside of work?

My kids. Travel; my holy trinity being London, Ibiza and Bogota. Dance music. Manchester United. All these passions, incidentally, I share with my wife and soul mate, Luisa.

What’s the most exciting thing about being in the advertising and media industry today?

Where to start? There are so many. One of the most exciting developments for me is the fact that brands today need to find meaning in consumers’ lives. That means agencies like Havas Media Group are re-defining how brands build relationships with people, which is fascinating, challenging and pioneering; it’s fire-in-your-belly stuff. While data certainly plays an important role in this revolution, I believe some marketers are getting over excited about data.

Brands are now playing on a higher level in helping to sort the world’s problems and improving people’s lives. The emotional intelligence necessary to thrive today requires a uniquely human touch that no machine could ever bring to a brand or campaign. I embrace our responsibility to make life better, to be more human, to work towards a purpose beyond profits and transform advertising into a medium which people lean in towards, rather than pull back away from.

With so much opportunity and endless possibilities, if you are not excited about the media landscape we find ourselves in today, then you are in the wrong job.

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