Pandemic and Brexit aside, 2021 is the year of what? Why?

Rethinking the role of technology in our lives and trying to find a way to make it work for us, rather than let it dominate our lives. We need to decide what kind of lives we want to build. There’s a need for a better sense of perspective around what matters and how to gain more meaning from life.

What are the 3 most exciting things on your to do list for today?

  1. I’ve got to test some motorized blinds I’m trying to “create” that would be voice activated, automatically reduce electricity usage, and wake you up to the sunrise. 
  2. I’m sending some ideas to someone on how to help make Miami a place people feel better about moving to.
  3. I’m generating some ideas for a TV show someone wants me to make, it’s going to be about brilliant people who take risks to invent things that matter.

Who inspires you in adland? Why?

I’ve always loved working in advertising, I’ve found almost every place I work to be full of brilliant, slightly loony minds. Collectively, I find us inspirational. More helpfully, I always find Rory Sutherland to be extremely reassuring in that he says things that do actually make sense of the madness. 

What was the last ad your saw that made you buy something?

Ads are generally not there to make you buy things, they are there to make you feel better about the things you FELT like you were going to buy anyway. Advertising works, but not like we think it does. The last thing I bought was a Remington nostril hair trimmer. I know somehow it won’t be totally shit because of some ads decades ago. 

What’s your all time favourite ad campaign and why?

AOL -  I just think about this ALL of the time.

What’s your single biggest learning of 2020?

That people are generally more anxious and fearful than I thought.

How do you plan to take your business forward in 2021? 

I’m slowly building a strong platform. Everyone is in a rush for everything but now is a good moment to engineer a strong sense of what our business will and won’t do, as well as the people we need and clients who’d be best suited to our work.

What keeps you awake at night?

I’m not a worrier, but I do get frustrated about a lack of focus in what I do and feel a bit guilty that I’ve not accomplished enough most days.

I’m worried the world is very unfair, but our attempts to make it better suffer because we don’t want to ask the hard questions.

I’m worried that people who work in politics are the very worst types of character that we need in leadership.

I’m worried that as species we won’t ever come close to the potential we have because of short-term thinking from egomaniacs.

What’s the biggest opportunity in marketing and advertising right now?

Digital ads that are beautiful, slightly well targeted, but most of all allow you to ‘buy’ with one click. I don’t ever want to “find out more” or have “an experience”. I just want to buy. 

What kind of innovation excites you the most?

I still think we’ve only made 1% of what the smartphone makes possible. How can it bring people together spontaneously? How can it allow banking to be accessible to all? How can it change education, voting, or the way social security is delivered? The list of possibilities goes on and on.

Solving meaningful problems with advanced, but accessible technology is what drives me. 

 Lockdown is over. The office is open. Describe your perfect working day…

I’d start with a nice coffee overlooking Biscayne Bay.

Then I’d read a few interesting articles.

Next I’d meet with a small company that wants advice over a coffee in a workspace.

Following that, I’d start to prepare a presentation I need to deliver in Europe the following week and make a few phone calls as I walk around outside.

Then I’d meet someone interesting for a chat with no agenda or set time and read a few more articles.

Later I’d walk around a new part of town and observe and overhear people and scribble down some thoughts in a little worn book in a nice cafe.

The day would end with drinks with various people who don’t know each other. Slowly other people they know would join and we’d talk about the changing world. 

What would you most like to change about the ad industry?

I want us to want our roles to be harder. We hide away from working with people who are different to us. We want it to be comfy, we want consensus, we want things to go unchallenged, it’s absolute bullshit. 

We are extremely lucky to have wonderful jobs in a fascinating space, and with brilliant people. Why can’t we have better conversations, embrace what’s wonderful about truly diverse groups and take more risks?

What are you speaking about at MAD//Anywhere? 

How to make sense of a changing world, avoid the nonsense that distracts us, and offer some ideas to help drive our industry forward. 

Tom Goodwin is speaking at MAD//Anywhere on 10 Nov at 16:59 as part of a US-focused content stream. Click here to get your ticket.