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Be the disruptors before you get disrupted, Barry Wacksman tells brands

Wacksman, Vice-Chairman and Global Chief Strategy Officer, R/GA, asks brands to be more proactive when it comes to disruption and advises them to find out new ways of connecting with the new generation of customers

Barry Wacksman

The digital revolution has disrupted the biggest of the companies in the last few years and brands must find new ways of looking at consumers before they get disrupted, said Barry Wacksman, Vice-Chairman and Global Chief Strategy Officer, R/GA.

Speaking at Goafest 2019, Wacksman shared unique insights and stated that with the advent and advancement of technology, everything was disrupted and it opened the doors to ‘asymmetrical innovators’ such as Tesla, Google and Amazon among others.

“Wherever I went in 2017 and whichever client I spoke to, they spoke about one word — disruption. There were brands and companies getting disrupted, there were agencies getting disrupted, there were many predators on the scene,” he said, signalling that old economy companies were constantly being disrupted by digital players.

Wacksman said the digital revolution had changed everything and companies must disrupt themselves before they are forced to get disrupted.

“We’re not in a recession or in a period of economic turmoil. There is a digital revolution. Technology can change our lives in a multitude of different ways. There are disruptive innovators coming from multiple industries, multiple formats for multiple levels,” he added.

“If you’re being disrupted, it probably needs you to make some changes,” said Wacksman.

Wacksman said that to connect with the new generation of customers, one must leverage change. “Because change is the only constant. Be it business, experience or marketing,” he added.

Giving an example of how WPP was taking to change, he said the agency stood for creative transformation. “To me, it represents a creative revolution. It is really opening the aperture of our creative lenses so that we see the world much more broadly than we did in the past,” he said.

Wacksman spoke about the challenges faced by advertisers when it comes to building brands at a time consumers are becoming increasingly averse to advertising.

“There have been companies that have been asking the question — how to convert from being disrupted to becoming disruptors. Till now we haven’t had a response to that. For us, it’s only a brief to make an ad,” said Wacksman.

Business problems cannot be solved with simple storytelling but need to be assimilated with a strategy that transforms perception, he said. “Not every brief can be solved through storytelling. It is how you connect with new generation of consumers.”

Highlighting the growth of his organisation in last one decade, Wacksman said, “I’ve spent 12 years with the same company, R/GA. We started with 50 people and now we have around 2,200 offices across the world. And this is my favourite part of my job, which is getting to travel around the world.”

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