This week I attended a seminar called Stora Annonsörsdagen, arranged by the Association of Swedish Advertisers. This year many of the speakers were top managers, so for advertisers, it was a good reality check. Why? Because top management personalities are not impressed by advertising itself; they are rather measured by the end-result of advertising.
I think the best insight came from Swedbank’s CEO, Michael Wolf. To paraphrase part of his message, management and advertising must speak from the same source: the corporate culture.
My impression of Mr. Wolf’s message is that today’s employees and consumers are working in tandem via social media to steer companies, for better or for worse. Therefore, there is a demand for top management to be more transparent and join their employees and consumers to move the corporation forward. This effort would strengthen employee loyalty, and consumers would respond by purchasing and repurchasing their products or services. In other words, the free will and spirit of social media could be harnessed for the proverbial win-win-win. The three groups must join as one to make sense of this new paradigm shift in advertising.
In an exclusive interview after his speech, Mr. Wolf praised the Internet for its transparency and explained how it has impacted their business. I think he would be a great leader for companies like Apple or Nokia. Since he joined the company in 2008, Swedbank has started to focus on the future by blogging internally with employees to open up dialogue and improve their operations. It has been an excellent way of strengthening the corporation’s culture, which has increased performance and loyalty. He also added that social media is a great tool to hone messages during changes in the company.
I would like to credit Stora Annonsörsdagen for raising advertising up to top management. Even though Mr. Wolf does not believe that a consultant belongs in their boardroom, he may open the door for a few customers. He may even offer them a seat in the future.