When I was called upon to reflect on the year that’s been, with the opportunity to discuss my hopes for 2023, I felt that now familiar pull towards introspection that’s defined much of the past three years. An introspective pull that has often left me, and the So Interactive team, with more questions than answers, but which has also helped us to pivot and adapt in the face of unprecedented challenges.
The past year has been one of ebb and flow. We’ve had a lot of business, pitched more than ever before, and witnessed significant budget cuts. It’s been nearly three years of working in a remote environment, three years of transition, and many, many learnings. As an agency, importantly, our introspection has been ongoing, and it’s brought about a lot of questions as to who we are, who we want to be, and what we want to become over the course of the next five years.
The ripple-effect of what we’ve all been through is undeniable. We’ve learnt a lot, burnt a lot, and gained invaluable experience navigating the complexities of a world where few things are certain. Culture is one area where agencies all over the world have seen massive changes, as working remotely creates new rules of engagement, leaving teams to function optimally while navigating the space in between.
Another massive change is the shift we’ve seen in how businesses and brands are approaching their marketing. Off the back of the pandemic, they’ve withdrawn into a blinkered-pursuit for sales, for direct-response, for the bottom-line. And while it’s understandable, it’s killing creativity, as agencies and clients alike remain terrified of taking risks.
The marketing funnel has been cut short, with less work being done to build brand awareness, or to develop a brand voice, and greater expectation on the results at the bottom. Of course, the marketing funnel exists for a reason, and when businesses have cut the activities towards the top, they’ve found their brand is no longer relevant, no longer top of mind, and their sales and service objectives have fallen short.
As an agency, this shift has inspired us to renew our commitment to focus on every touch point of the funnel, motivated by a desire to get back down to the customer themselves, the people behind the data sets, so we can better understand the experience that exists around them, and the human impact a brand can have.
Looking back to 2007, the year So Interactive was started, this is actually what we set out to do: To create purposeful and meaningful experiences for the people engaging with brands and businesses, and instead of just building marketing campaigns, to create an experience of substance within a digital ecosystem. We’re intentionally returning to that focus now because we’ve realised: We’re not just a digital marketing agency. We’re a curator of experiences. And for us, what matters is where your audience’s attention lies, and how best we can speak to them in a way that matters; a way they won’t forget.
As years go, 2022 is a difficult one to sum up. It’s been marked by difficult economic times and bright-shining highlights; by pitch after pitch, and by the pull to make an impact. In terms of new clients, we’ve welcomed Melrose Gallery and Leigh Avenue. We also launched Ocean Basket’s global website – the culmination of a year of work – and curated the Maker content for Pernod Ricard’s Phakamisa iSpirit initiative, a cause that’s close to my heart. We were honoured to receive a gold and silver in the New Gen Awards, and stood as finalists for Social Paid Advertising and Breakthrough on a Budget at the IAB Bookmarks Award 2022.
I’m also proud to report that alongside the refinement of our place, our purpose, we also began work on our first ever CSI project, the results of which will launch in 2023. In an effort to continue to redefine our role in the industry, and to build meaningful relationships, we’ve partnered with an incredible conservation organisation, putting the time and energy we’d normally spend on pitching towards a greater good. This is one of the bigger moves we’ve made in our return to experience, to connection, to relationship-building, and to work that makes an impact, and it’s something I’m incredibly proud of.
In 2023, we want to make sure we rebuild the culture of where we’re at as an agency, and as an industry. And we believe that by being true to our purpose and authentic in our messaging, we can instil a creative culture, a positive culture, a culture in which our values breed, ensuring we develop a stronger team that produces stronger creative work. And from there, the rest will follow.