We recently caught up with incoming new TCC Board member Chris Howatson, CEO of CHE Proximity, who shares his perspective on the big challenges for our industry, and the opportunities ready to be seized. 

: What do you see as the greatest challenges currently facing our industry?

Chris: Transformation will be the theme of most business plans in 2020, and while this challenge is big enough there are two other factors increasing the degree of executional difficulty.

The first is the flat economic environment. As brands struggle to grow investment is reduced or channelled into new initiatives – sometimes beyond the scope of communications. It’s harder to change when managing decline, than it is to forward invest against growth.

The second factor is an agreed playbook for marketing effectiveness. For the last century SOV equals SOM and salient distinctiveness have been the trusty pillars for effective communication design. But as new generations emerge and our entertainment habits shift to non-advertising environments, these rules require new application.

TCC: And what do you see as our industry’s biggest opportunities?

Chris: Creativity (beyond communications) is playing a more expansive role in business growth than it has in recent years. I was on a flight last week and the airline had redesigned how you order a drink. Instead of pressing the call button and enduring the disapproving looks from submitting your fourth gin and tonic order, they had integrated ordering into the entertainment system – quietly, delightfully. They understood the customer need, how people feel and solved it. That’s creativity.

As more of our clients move to more flexible team structures and project ways of working, we have an opportunity to more deeply support them by applying creativity across their entire value chain of business functions. It’s everything we’ve ever asked for – better understanding of the problem, true influence in the organisation, unlimited application of creativity. 

TCC: What do you love most about working in our industry?

Chris: We get to do something new everyday. Meet new people. Solve new problems. Create ideas. Shape the culture of the world we live in. Awesome.

TCC: As an incoming member of TCC board, do you have any specific priorities?

Chris: I’d love to help more of an advisory services to young people in our industry. Help them navigate agency and client challenges and ultimately perform better.