Publish your content on The Drum
Predictions Festival Banner

Accenture’s Amir Malik: startups have suffered but now they must seize creative opportunities

Amir Malik, managing director of growth marketing at Accenture Interactive, is set to co-chair The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising. Here he shares what he looks for in a winning entry, some advice for marketers both junior and senior, and his predictions for 2021.

The Drum: What are some challenges Accenture Interactive has faced this year and how are you overcoming them?

Amir Malik: I think the challenges are two-pronged. There was the immediate physical challenge. We’re very used to being on-site with clients, being nearby to provide support. So transitioning away from that was challenging. It felt impersonal, even drone-like, being on virtual comms at the beginning.

There is a psychological aspect too. We’re a massive company, and our chief executive, Julie Sweet, is keen to ensure an awareness of mental health during this pandemic. It feels like Groundhog day and we’re all finding it difficult to reach our goals. We’ve found it’s helpful to monitor people, making sure that the air of uncertainty is balanced by lots of collaboration, lots of support, everybody looking out for each other.

TD: I want to ask you about your predictions for this year. What are you excited about?

AM: Some industries have benefited, like the grocer sector, retail products, telcos and internet providers. I think they will change too – right now you’re seeing a lot of gig economy apps from brands, the ones we used to shop with in-store.

The innovation we’re seeing is unprecedented, as is its pace. Companies have the incentive to truly explore digital technology, which is exciting. Maybe blockchain finally makes sense, or using AI, data, utilising the digital fingerprint to ensure you're close to your customer. These are the big themes I expect to influence businesses and at Accenture Interactive we’re trying to be a supporting partner.

TD: It’s interesting that some of these technologies that were peripheral before have really matured.

What’s the biggest challenge you foresee the industry facing, and how do you think we can prepare to overcome it?

AM: From our perspective, we've definitely felt the squeeze around creating intimacy with our customer and being there for them. We can only reach each other through virtual comms. It's important within that to build in recovery time.

I also worry that smaller start-ups, which can provide great services and talent, won't be able to originate in this climate. I hope that platforms like The Drum, and The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising, will showcase some of those companies, proving that it is possible to innovate, and deliver high-quality, creative advertising for your clients. These companies will have been hit hard by the pandemic, so that’s a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity, and I hope a new breed of agency will seize that.

TD: Speaking of the Awards, what are you looking for in the submissions? What makes an entry stand out for you?

AM: Sustainable forms of advertising and demonstrations of good use of data in digital channels.

Given my background, I’m interested in the use of innovative digital channel targeting, showing how adtech and martech have been used to connect platforms that weren't previously connected, targeting hard-to-reach customers.

There’s lots of advertising out there, but just like technology it can be used for good or bad. It can benefit the consumer or it can be annoying. We need examples of ingenuity that positively impact the customer, that make people feel good about what they see – compelling, trust-building advertising.

What’s your advice for our readers, people in the industry?

For the senior folk, it’s a bit of ’stick in there, we'll get through this’. I know people hate the term ’The New Normal’, but we do have to adapt. There is an ocean of opportunity that’s coming, and your experience today will be crucial to how you orchestrate your business.

For more junior people that are just entering the industry, don't be disheartened. This is the time to discover, find new ways to advertise, explore new platforms. We’re seeing shifts in behaviour, in the ways we consume content. Remain hopeful, because you’re in a great and important industry.

To enter The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising, visit the website.

By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy