When I Think About 2017, This is What Keeps Me Up at Night…

Partners + Napier's Managing Director ,Courtney Cotrupe
Partners + Napier’s Managing Director, Courtney Cotrupe

When it comes to exiting 2016 and ushering in 2017, many ad executives are not going gently into that good night. It’s been a great year for shining a light on diversity and culture issues and for new creative work. But the national political climate, transparency challenges and a slew of AI and VR products have left many questions about what to expect in 2017. Here Partners + Napier’s Courtney Cotrupe shares what she is thinking about in the wee small hours of the morning.

  1. How do we keep up with the ever-shrinking attention span in our screen-filled world?  This holiday season, I’m considering asking my husband for an Apple watch. Not because I want to add yet another screen to my life—but because I feel like I should have one for business. Still, it makes me shudder to think about literally attaching a device to my body, almost like a chip in my brain. And then having to pay attention to, and manage, one more information stream on yet another screen. It’s no wonder that podcasts are booming. Consumers want to listen to more content now, probably because our eyes are just getting too tired from reading so many words on too many screens. And, as a marketer, more devices mean an added layer of measurement and complexity to help us truly understand how to get the most ROI for our clients.
  1. When will virtual reality become reality?  It would’ve been nearly impossible for anyone attending an advertising conference over the past few years to participate in a trends discussion without talking about VR. Daniel Newman wrote in an October 2016 Forbes article, “Considering the success of games like Pokémon Go, expect virtual and augmented reality to take us into the future. Brands that fail to incorporate visuals and videos will be left by the wayside.” While I agree with this statement, I wonder about its practicality. I know I don’t want to walk around wearing one of those helmets. Yet, how can we help consumers rely on VR as not only entertainment, but as a utility? And how do we evolve it into a viable marketing tool?
  1. What about Gen Z and the AARP crowd?  The industry’s continued obsession with Millennials gives me pause. Marketers shouldn’t be so fascinated by Millennials that we forget Gen Z is right on our heels. We need to be building bridges with this rapidly expanding and increasingly spending consumer group. Additionally, we must pay more attention to the generation on the other side: People over 55. They’re one of the fastest growing segments on social media, they have money and, as I’ve learned from our agency’s work with Highmark and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, they’re feeling grossly underrepresented in mainstream media and marketing. There’s a big opportunity to change that, if we just pay these crowds some much-deserved attention.
  1. How do we keep a new generation of hybrid talent challenged and happy?  Young people today are joining us with T-shaped expertise rather than deep vertical skills. Our challenge is to figure out the best ways to apply and develop those abilities. Take account management: At Partners + Napier, we now have account leaders—the role isn’t based solely around management anymore. Their many hats include strategy, relationship-building, activating and measuring outcomes. So, how can we best harness and direct this amazing, multifaceted talent, and consistently stay ahead of rightfully demanding clients?
  1. How do we evolve our workplace to best meet the needs of today’s modern family?  Family is one of Partners + Napier’s bedrock values, and I often find myself tossing and turning considering how our agency can better support modern workers in today’s ever more chaotic world. Since we were founded in 2004, we’ve been committed to work-life balance, but that balance continues to shift. Technology has made our lives easier, but it’s constantly sucking us in at every turn (see my “too many screens” nightmare above). So, how can we be sure we’re providing the right mix of benefits to ensure our people better harmonize their work and home lives? For example, we all talk about the importance of flex time, but should we also be thinking about offering people longer-term sabbaticals to rejuice and return to the agency more energized than ever? When we make a real, positive difference in our people’s lives, the ripple effect with colleagues and clients is well worth losing some sleep over, when trying to figure out how to make it happen.