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Marketing Lessons for 2023 – Including Returning to the Office


So go back to the office, let your mind wander during your daily commute and see if ideas come more easily. Embrace the sensory overload of a building full of collaborative energy and ask yourself if you’d really rather be home alone. If yes, change your profession before you become that exhausted bastard you saw looking at you from the bottom right corner of your screen.

Fear is the enemy of creativity

There is an epidemic of fear driving most marketing today. The shrinking tenure of the typical CMO means that risk-averse clients are desperate to put numbers on the board without making waves. Stories of ideas killed by auditioning and second guessing may fill a pine chest, but a recent disturbing trend is clients getting angry at their agency team for submitting an idea that was too bold, too unconventional, or too “off-brand” to their management.

Let me get this straight, were you mad that your agency came to you with such a bold idea?

If you’re a customer, it’s entirely up to you – and your business – to decide whether or not something will work for your brand. (This is why you have “boss” and/or “brand” in your title.) At the same time, your agency has a responsibility to not only present an idea that will work based on where the brand is today, it has a duty to share ideas that emerge where trade mark may be go tomorrow.

Some of these ideas may seem strange, and many of them may be wrong, but how will we know unless we hang it on the wall and discuss the pros and cons? Cooperation leads to regulation, but never forget that oversight leads to mediocrity.


You don’t want an agency to censor themselves, so if your reaction to an off-brand idea is annoying, you as the client are showing your fear and undermining your authority. To paraphrase a famous saying, a brave CMO only dies once (then gets a better job) but a coward dies a thousand deaths.

Be kind, helpful, and bold. No one cares about your brand until you capture their attention, entertain them, and give them enough information to be a welcome distraction. Fearful clients make agencies anxious. Better to take more chances and give your agencies permission to think out loud and fail.

So, in short, what will we do in 2023?

Remember what we knew all along – that marketing is a team sport and that creativity needs room to grow. Including office space.

And remember to aim for the fence when it comes to creativity – because if we don’t, you’ll actually lose the game.