Jaimes Leggett’s 2016 predictions.

The Australian gathered the nation’s top Chief Executives to lend their thoughts on how the media and marketing landscape will shape in 2016 for their annual Media CEO Survey. M&C Saatchi CEO Jaimes Leggett was the only Creative Agency head asked to contribute, here’s what he had to say.

The Australian: What will happen to the advertising market in 2016?

Jaimes Leggett: Specifically, given that it’s both an Olympic and Federal election year, paid media should see an uptick which is good for all those in advertising.

More generally, however, the structural shifts will continue unabated. Such as brands increasingly going beyond messaging to develop more immersive connections with people. Connections based on lived experiences that add something to their lives. For a while now ‘creative agencies’ (for want of a better term) have cottoned on to the fact that they’re not just good at creating ads, they are good at employing creativity to solve business problems.

Whether that’s coming up with a new product or service or making clever, compelling content that lives a life of its own and engages masses of people.  In 2016 I think more agencies will go beyond merely paying lip service to this notion and put the necessary people and infrastructures in place to take them beyond advertising and into different realms. To have the capacity to actually build new products and take them beyond proof of concept to commercial viability. Or social/content hubs that respond and shape consumer sentiment in real time. I think increasing numbers of good agencies will become end-to-end and the ones that don’t will remain mere service entities and run the risk of devolving into irrelevance.

The Australian: What is the disruptive technology you fear most and how will you beat it?

Jaimes: This may sound a bit trite but we genuinely don’t fear disruptive technology. Indeed, we embrace it as opportunity rather than threat. Take ad blocking for example. A horror-inducing bit of tech if your sole ambition remained making ads. But if your ambition is to make compelling content, or experiences or products on behalf of clients that people will actually be inspired to see, feel, be a part of and use, then an app that blocks ads holds absolutely no fear.

The Australian: Where will you be investing in 2016?

Jaimes: As a business we have four key areas we will be investing significantly in next year :

1 Our new product development/tech hub Tricky jigsaw, because we want to continue making things that make life better, in close collaboration with our clients.

2 Our fledging retail arm, because we want to eventually be in the business of selling things.

3 The big data analysis capability of our customer engagement business LIDA, because we want to better help our clients turn those screeds of data being collected into searing, gilt-edged insight.

4 The continued training, development and inspiration of our number one asset – our people.

The Australian: What do you see as the biggest opportunity for your business in the next five years?

Jaimes: I’m going to cheat here and mention two opportunities.

The first is the ability to have some serious skin in the game.

We’ve worked hard to not just come up with ideas to solve business problems but to have the wherewithal to turn those ideas into reality. We built a lab, filled it with tools and people who can use them – hardware engineers, software engineers, creative technologists etc and further developed our collaborative mindset to create new products. From idea to commercial viability. One example is Optus Clever Buoy, our shark detection device that uses world-first technology The project, that arose from an ad brief to prove the efficacy of the Optus network has been chosen by the Baird Government for trial on NSW beaches this summer.

Our Melbourne office is changing the conversation from one of price to one of quality with towels made from Australian manufactured cotton. Australian Weaving, the nation’s last remaining cotton mill, was struggling against cheap imported towels that mask their inferior cotton with fabric softener that actually repels water. To prove how superior the Aussie product is M&C Saatchi Melbourne entered into a JV with Australian Weaving and created a new product ‘The 2 Litre Towel’ that can literally mop up that amount of water. Then they cleverly packed the towels in 2L dink containers to display in fridge cabinets in David Jones.

I believe the great opportunity lies in having a stake in commercialising these new products and increasingly monetising the IP we bring to actually make them via the likes of Jvs and profit-share arrangements.

Second, further fostering direct relationships with media owners who see a value proposition in housing the compelling content that we increasingly create on their sites and portals.