Twenty years have passed since the first edition of the Cluetrain Manifesto. 95 disruptive theses that already in 1999 had foreseen the arrival of the internet iceberg and proposed the right market attitude in order to not crash into it (The end of business as usual, was the subtitle of the document).
“In the meantime the icebergs have melted, and although that advice is still very current, twenty years later there are new tensions and some of these have become dramatically urgent. And last year confirmed it: we will remember 2019 as the Purpose year, a year of sensitivity towards topics of values that the marketing world had turned its nose up to, banished to the desks of CSR managers (Corporate Social Responsibility)”, Paolo Iabichino explains, in order to introduce what he defines as the attempt to “take the last train running, to try and do this job in a totally renewed way”.
Iabichino is known for being the creative director of Ogilvy Italy and at the top of WPP (Wire and Plastic Products) as EMEA Executive Creative Director for all the digital agencies of the Group, coordinating strategy and creativity for 27 European markets of FCA brands. He has worked on brands such as Alitalia, American Express, Armani, Barilla, Bulgari, Cisco, Condé Nast, Ferrero, Galbani, Google, IBM, Nestlé, Nice, Parmigiano Reggiano, Timberland, Viacom, Wind and was chosen as best communicator in the year 2018. Today he’s speaking in the role of teacher at the college of Story Design Baricco’s Scuola Holden.
And it’s with 16 of his students, between 19 and 29 years of age, that he has decided to launch the Newtrain Manifesto. Because “when we sink the pens of advertising into the ink of ethics, activism, of stances, the risk of smudging is very high, and especially I think that none of us can allow ourselves seductive tricks any more,” he explains. “After the solidarity hangovers of 2019 it would be nice to witness a deep awareness on how to do business, marketing and communication in the next 30 years. It seems that 2050 is the last year before the collapse: an alarming analysis by the researchers of the Australian National Center for Climate Restoration which outlines a scenario where by the year 2050 global temperatures will go up three degrees Celsius, triggering fatal changes to the global ecosystem”.
You could say that there is a way to take Greta Thunberg’s message and make it concrete. “That’s right. It’s what teachers should do. Listening to young people and directing them, helping them to channel and structure their desires and aspirations”, Iabichino explains, clarifying that “the tone of voice we have chosen is compelling like the Cluetrain one, because we are experiencing a generational rift: criticism aimed towards figures such as Greta Thunberg and Carole Rackete on the international scene or the ‘sardine’ movement in Italy, show the incapability of adults to read these regenerative drives that come from the younger levels of the world’s population. Generation Z is fine when it is enclosed in a cluster of targets, not if it tries to tell us how it should be treated. The push that comes from these kids is not anti-consumeristic, on the contrary. There is a new awareness that is not on the agendas of the boards.”
The new manifesto is “made up of 30 theses, one for each year from here to 2050 and it is aimed towards anyone who is in business, small, medium or large companies alike. In and out of the Internet, business-to-business or business to consumer, assuming these categories still matter”, Iabichino clarifies, adding that everything “started as a class exercise” but then “we understood that we were writing an important document, with an enormous foundational potential to help companies to make the market in a healthier way. There is a celebratory aim, to hail the twenty years of Cluetrain, follow up on it and write the new theses for the market of the future. On the other hand there is a real worry for what is happening and what will happen in the next few years.”
The Newtrain Manifesto - The 30 thesis
Sustainability is a prerequisite to operate on the market. It’s an urgent and necessary requirement, it can’t be an advertising boast or a marketing idea.
The first thing we notice is the first you try to hide. We love transparency, authenticity and respect. Don’t try to manipulate us.
- For years you have studied us, analysed us, now it’s up to us: we want to know what you are, not what you say you are. We want to meet the aims of your actions: strip off and let us look.
- If data is the new oil, don’t be the new oil companies. Can you please not pollute everything even in the digital world?
- The bigger your data, the smaller our consent.
- How did that song go? What goes around comes around. Creating a certified and sustainable supply chain is the only way to be on the market.
- The choice of raw materials and the treatment of human resources are your business card, if you have got them wrong, rewrite them.
- In nature there is no waste, everything is used again or recycled: let’s take this as an example.
- We want quality products, that last. Start producing them, or the only programmed obsolescence will be yours.
- Artificial intelligence is among us, don’t use algorithms to turn us into your ATMs.
- You workers can become your first influencers. In good and evil.
- Their wellbeing and satisfaction are the reflection of your success. There is a happiness GDP, you do the math.
- First names only. Companies are part of the same collectivity, it’s useless to compartmentalise.
- If you’re wondering what equality is, perhaps you have chosen the wrong job or you are simply late. But there is no more time.
- Gender equality issues are not a flag and LGBTQ+ rights are not an accessory to show off.
- Is that not clear? Gender equality = equal responsibilities = equal acknowledgements.
- Don’t talk about inclusivity just for your own reputation: diversity acquires value only if it is well represented.
- It is no longer the time of “no such thing as bad press”, we need to create credible press, pertinent and significant.
- Traffic is not consent: we are not numbers, we are individuals. Relationships are worth more than a million views.
- We are not angry, we are disappointed.
- You can’t build a lasting relationship on false premises. Try with a sincere agreement, if you want our trust.
- Don’t mistake faith with loyalty, it won’t be hard to find someone else.
- Brand stories are nice, but we need to hear the truth. Don’t sell us your needs, free us from ours.
- Remember you have a weight: we’re not on the moon! To each action there is a corresponding reaction: market-making also means making culture.
- Have you ever thought about beauty as a marketing tool? Beauty is coherence, awareness, curiosity, amazement, involvement. Put it in your Powerpoints.
- Companies that place themselves generously on the market will win.
- You might think it’s impossible, but we will all gain from this: you, us and the generations to come.
- Support your values and respect the ones that you don’t believe in.
- Take on our battles, if you believe in them, but don’t exploit them. We don’t care about your uninterested support.
- Excuse us, it’s our turn now to decided the rules of the game: the first rule is that this is not a game anymore.