British Marketers Won’t Get It


Just a Friday point-of-view this but my recent visit to London made me realise something: that British marketers seem to be refusing to get on board with the digital evolution...

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 22 july 2005

Just a Friday point-of-view this but my recent visit to London made me realise something: that British marketers seem to be refusing to get on board with the digital evolution in marketing. I’m not talking email or websites here – I’m talking blogs, social networks, Flickr.

There are a few folk in the UK who are very switched on, I grant you, but a lot of agency people I met in my short visit were rather bemused by PSFK and IF. Although blogs are championed by the Guardian newspaper – an important media read – the British marketing community seems to be dismissive of the new tools to develop dialog between brands and consumers.

The contrast with New York, where I am based, is vast. Agencies in New York get it – they may not be making the best attempts but they’re trying hard. It’s best to crash and burn than not not try at all, no? The buzz around new media tools is exemplified by the social networking going on here. Meanwhile in London, there seems to be an air of "well, we make the most creative advertising in the world, why should we listen to what’s going on anywhere else." Everyone in Soho seems to be still in the pub talking about the next commercials director.

When I attended the great Seth Godin talk held by Hugh MacLeod before I returned, there was discussion about how there were a high proportion of attendees at his talks from ’emerging ‘ marketing countries. The Brists don’t really care.

I can also quantify this too: If we take the PSFK newsletter list (in its thousands) and look at the location of subscribers we see a disproportionately low number of Brits on the list (and I am British so I would think that may have a positive influence). What we actually see is a disproportionately high number of subscribers from Northern Europe (Scandinavia, Netherlands, Latvia) and Australasia. We’re getting similar results with those folk subscribing to IF. When I spoke to Niku Banaie of Naked the other day he said he had similar representations on his email list too.

Someone name a really good British marketing-related blog that can stand beside European blogs like AdLand, Textually or WMMNA? Is there one?

So, why Scandinavia? Why Australia? It seems like folks in these countries are hungry: they’re watching, soaking it all up, learning. They’re connecting the dots. The Brits aren’t. In a world where we can create dialog anywhere, anytime, guess what happens next?


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