One of adland’s most respected agency chiefs, John Hegarty, has launched an extraordinary expletive-fuelled rant on data marketing, claiming consumers will tell brands to “fuck off” if they continue to exploit their personal information.
Speaking at this week’s Advertising Week Europe conference in London, the BBH boss warned brands such as Nike which are collecting huge amounts of personal behaviour data on consumers to “be careful”, adding that their actions are “Orwelian” and objectionable.
“There’s a great problem here – throughout history we have fought for freedom to be individual and what you’re doing with [consumer data collection tools such as Nike Fuelband] is taking it away,” he said.
“I think there will be a huge backlash and people will say ‘That’s not the world I want to live in’. Brands that say ‘I understand you’ – fuck off – you don’t understand me, mind your own business, I don’t want to be understood by you.”
Hegarty also warned marketers that the obsession with data and new technology is blocking out the the bigger picture.
He added: “You’d expect a creative person to pour slight scorn on to data. I’ve spent my life dealing with people who have all the data in the world and yet can’t invent anything. Supermarkets have an incredible amount of data coming in to them and they didn’t realise they were flogging horse meat.
“When any new technology comes along you have a creative deficit and no one knows what to do with it. You get obsessed with the technology and not what it is actually delivering.”
Meanwhile, Tim Hipperson’s new boss – ZenithOptimedia’s global chief executive Steve King – claimed that data is not the “golden bullet” it is often viewed as.
He added: “It is definitely changing the way you can reach consumers with certain products. You can serve realtime ads in milliseconds and there’s huge potential but every advertiser I see has got so much data. There’s a real conundrum. I’ve got examples of clients that have used data in some great ways but we’re taking baby steps – we could drown in data. Not a single client has nailed it.”
Hipperson to join ZenithOptimedia