This month Ahmed Hasan is my co-conspirator as we peer over the balcony down to the Rockstar CMO Swimming Pool (our portal to marketing hell for all the BS, shady outdated practices, snake oil or over-hyped buzzwords) and we consider chucking “resistance to change” into its shimmering depths.

As you may have read in The Pretender issue I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Ahmed Hasan, the Global Head of Customer Engagement Marketing at Spark44 (an agency dedicated to the global marketing of Jaguar Land Rover brands).

I went backstage with him and as an industry innovator that has helped shift this venerable British brand firmly into relevance in the 21st century, I was not surprised by the pet peeve. He suggested we chuck into the Rockstar CMO Swimming Pool “the resistance to change”.

Specifically, he said:

Anyone that thinks change is not going to affect their industry, or that belligerently doesn’t want to change.

Change is the tune of marketing, but it’s also our employers and clients that need to feel the beat and, if you forgive the shift in metaphor, we are often holding the canary that can detect the relevance of the brand, product or service that we are taking into the world.

Disruption is the watch word of the digital age, but of course change is nothing new, like the four-piece boy band, it’s been a constant in the charts. Back in 1960 renowned marketing pioneer Theodore Levitt (considered a hero here at the Rockstar CMO penthouse) penned Marketing Myopia that discussed how companies can become obsolete when they misunderstand their market.

One example Levitt discussed back then, before Amazon came along and seemingly gobbled up our high streets, was the demise of the railways in the US. The railway competed with each other and ignored that they were in the transportation business and the real change, the real disruptor, the real competitor was the automobile.

Maybe in the same way that the US today look back with regret on the near death of the railway and wishes it had a viable national public transportation network, as today consumers shift their focus away from the car and toward more sustainable forms of transportation, in forty years maybe we will lament the death of our high streets. But, belligerence to change in any industry won’t alter the fact that it is happening.

There are countless examples of this resistance, from market dominance to being irrelevant in the mainstream charts of their market; Siebel, Kodak, Palm, Blockbuster, Maplin, Nokia, AOL, Atari, Blackberry, Polaroid, Sears, the list goes on and on.

Fortunately for Ahmed, with the help of his agency and team, Jaguar Landrover is not one of them and so he joins me in the Rockstar CMO penthouse as we heave “resistance to change” over the balcony and we clink our glasses as it splashes down to hell… 

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