Mark Ritson’s seven ways to make marketing great again: Mumbrella360 video

The Melbourne Business School’s adjunct professor Mark Ritson told marketers during a Mumbrella360 session exactly what they need to do to improve their performance. Mumbrella’s Zoe Samios looks back on Ritson’s thoughts on making marketing great again.

Mark Ritson believes there’s an “unerring sense” something is wrong in the world of marketing, and has done so for the past three years.

However, the professor from Melbourne’s Business School doesn’t believe there needs to be a revolution of the marketing industry, just a course correction. During this session from the Mumbrella360 conference, he asks marketers what the industry needs to do to make marketing in Australia great again.

Watch the full session here:


1. The death myth

Ritson believes marketers are extrapolating themselves into stupidity by making generalised predictions, and as a result, are missing the point of segments.

“We have a giant death myth in this industry,” Ritson tells Mumbrella360’s audience.

“Everything is fucking dying. If it’s not dying, it’s already dead, or it’s dying much faster than what we anticipated and soon to be dead.

“It turns out there’s room for more media and technologies than we might have thought. It turns out shit very rarely dies – it moves and evolves and it makes room for the next player to come in.”

For Ritson, marketers are not only assuming “everything is dying” but believe every new piece of technology is “completely and utterly cool”.

Ritson says marketers must stop listening to marketing presentations which suggest the consumer is changing.

“It takes more than six, seven, 12, 50 years for human evolution to change the fundamental nature of the way we think and the way we feel. The technology and media change but the target him or herself does not.”

2. Stop using techno porn for marketing masturbation

Ritson uses the example of Pokemon Go, allegedly on track to “change to face of marketing”, which is now “dead”.

“We can’t fucking resist virtual reality. At every marketing conference and marketing magazine there’s someone with a stupid fucking headset.

“You look like a dickhead, take it off.”

“You look like a dickhead”: Ritson

3. Stop making the word ‘digital’ sexy – it’s just marketing

Ritson has argued for years the words ‘marketing’ and ‘digital marketing’ are one and the same, but now, he believes, his point was proven.

“It turns out, and excuse me if I go and suck my own cock for a second here, I am totally and utterly correct.”

He goes on to cite the Society of Digital Agencies and Forrester report, which revealed statistics on digital marketing that concluded the health of the digital media industry is strong, but that no one would be saying the word ‘digital’ going forward.

“More than 75% of client-side marketers and agency leaders agree the term ‘digital’ will disappear within five years as a meaningful differentiator,” Ritson reads.

“27% of agency leaders believe the term has already lost its relevance today.”

The report indicated it had found an important existential consideration for digital agencies.

“Traditional is digital, digital is traditional, and as the months pass by that stupid bi-ification between the two will become more and more stupid,” he says.

“Let’s be clear who’s going to be the daddy here. Marketing is not becoming to become part of digital. Digital is soon to become part of marketing.”

4. Marketers need to be trained in marketing

One of Ritson’s more controversial claims is his argument that marketers lack the training to do their job properly.

“All of you in the room that don’t have marketing training – which would be around 65% based on basic statistics in Australia – think that [it’s not true that marketers need training] and the 35% that are, think it [training] makes perfect sense.”

“It’s not an uncommon perspective – ‘I’m proud to not have any marketing training.’”

He urges marketers to get themselves “trained” in marketing.

“You should know what the fuck marketing is before you start to karate chop it into something else.”

 According to Ritson, people are forgetting what marketing “actually is”.

5. Marketers need to learn how to brief

He adds marketers need to learn how to brief their agencies.

“’Can you brief your agency?’ is a question on the client-side I would encourage you to consider and the answer increasingly in Australia is ‘No I can’t. I can’t because I don’t have a strategy to brief them on.

“’I can’t because I fundamentally don’t understand that my tactical ideas on the client-side are shit and the reason I have an agency is because they’re going to do the tactics for me and I should shut the fuck up’,” he says.

“You need to learn how to brief. It takes four days, six max to learn how to brief properly.

Ritson urges marketers to learn how to brief their agencies

“It’s an indelible skill.

“Australian briefing sessions increasingly have one of two errors. Either we get under-briefing which is basically, ‘I have $400,000, what do I do with that?’ or even worse over-briefing.

“Learn the difference between strategy and tactics because right now, Australia doesn’t get it.”

6. Accept a more humble role for brands

As Ritson sees it, “too many marketers have fallen into the trap of believing your brand is your life”.

“The consumer doesn’t care. You spend way too much time thinking about toilet paper and alcoholic beverages and dental floss,” he says.

“Consumers don’t want a relationship with your brand. They want it to be there, they want it to deliver and maybe they want it to stand for a little, but they don’t want it to save the world,” he argues.

“What’s really going on without all this process is something far more obvious.

“The opportunity cost of this focus on love and purpose is that most of you are missing that harder commercial point.”

Ritson believes the main business of brands is being missed as a consequence, telling them there’s only three things they have to do properly.

“First, generate brand awareness. Second, generate an image for your brand which is realistic and slightly different.

“Be distinctive, stand out. This is an Australian weakness. We are all out there trying to have these brand purposes and all the brands look the same.

“There is only one brand that gets actual visual merchandising right in Australia.

“Peter Alexander is a fucking marketing genius and if we were in France or Britain he would be venerated as a true king of marketing.”

7. Make finance a key part of the organisation

Ritson urges marketers to get to grips with finance.

“Think about how your marketing budget is made. For 95% in the room, here’s where the money comes that you go spend on your brand purpose.”

He argues a financial adviser or executive’s marketing budget defeats the purpose of marketing altogether.

“If he already knows what the growth is going to be next year and he already knows what your sales are, what is the point of doing any fucking marketing?

“The minute you accept that budget marketing, it’s a cost and it’s a total fucking waste of time. He’s already booked your sales for next year, marketing is an afterthought.”

The last point Ritson raises is the need for “brevity”.

“Maybe the essence of strategy is what you don’t do rather than what you do.

“Remember that an elegant diagnosis takes a lot of work but can be summarised beautifully.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.