Former Red Bull UK marketing chief: marketing is now ‘like Tinder’

The former Red Bull UK marketing director Huib Van Bockel has said that marketing today is ‘like Tinder’ and called out the need for brands to react faster to the pace of disruption.

Speaking at Advertising Week Europe, Bockel, who departed the brand in December, said that long gone are the days when marketers could enjoy the safety of a 30-second ad reaching their audience, and urged them to adapt to innovation in the marketplace.

“People are not really reacting to that [disruption] at the pace that they should be. 10 years ago you had a brand positioning and you would communicate that brand positioning once or twice a year.”

According to Bockel, two things have changed: firstly, brands have to communicate with consumers constantly, particularly via social, and secondly, the once standard 30 seconds of advertising is non-existent in today’s impatient landscape.

“In that sense marketing has become like Tinder; in one second you decide to engage with that content or swipe it away, and that’s what brands have to get used to.”

Fear of disruption was a theme that emerged during the panel, which also included Unilever’s global marketing strategy director Jeremy Basset. Bockel identified two forms of disruption – disruptive business models such as Uber or Airbnb and a disruptive marketing mix – adding that brands are not grasping the latter.

“More and more brands are not getting the marketing bit right,” he said. “There is room for these other people to come in and have a better product. Brands have got to think about that in all the [business] models and think how well their marketing mix is actually working in this day and age.”

He referred to the Swiss watch industry which has expressed that it has no fear about the impending release of the Apple Watch, and the taxi industry, which is attempting to sue competitors in the marketplace rather than trying to innovate.

“The same happened with Airbnb. The people in the hospitality industry are talking about how to sue the bastards. They are not talking about how to change their own business model – they are trying to stop them, and that just shows that 95 per cent of us are still in that state of mind of protecting your stuff.”

Meanwhile Basset, who works at the Unilever Foundry and is responsible for connecting start-ups with brands, said agencies should play a more active role in connecting their clients with new technology to keep up with the pace of change.

“If agencies were agents to the plethora of innovation that is helping in the world, we’d be in quite a different space to what we are at the moment,” he said. “I always encourage the agencies that I work with to be out there finding this technology that is transforming the way that we work and bring that back to us as a brand.”

Futurist Tracey Follows, Fiona McIntosh, founder of Blow and former launch editor of Grazia, and Poke co-founder Nik Roope also appeared on the panel yesterday evening (25 March).

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