Kevin Roberts’s Chaos Theory

What does it take to manage a brand in a digital world? Kevin Roberts, worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, says it takes vision, guts, and the ability to thrive amidst chaos. Here are four ways to keep your footing.

  1. Find people who can not only manage change and complexity, but who actually enjoy chaos. You can only thrive in chaos if you bloody love it. Consumers love this chaotic world because in it they win.
  2. Learn to fail fast, learn fast, and fix fast. Because CEOs today are ROI-driven and obsessed, the great CMOs have to be smart street fighters so they can fail fast without their bosses kicking them in the slats.
  3. Then, you need to do all these things on the cheap. Fail cheap, learn cheap, fix cheap — because they’re not going to give you money to fail. Do fast, frequent, little tests of promising concepts, then as soon as you’ve got 80% results, boom! You’re gone.
  4. Embrace the concept of random. The idea that you have control over your brand, control over the outcome of your marketing test, control over retail: forget it! One person, out of nowhere, can turn your marketing plan upside down. Sure, you didn’t deserve it, it’s not your fault — who cares? Most management is not random. There are monthly meetings, budgets, goals. Some 98% of budgets are committed at the beginning of the year, deployed the same way they were spent last year. Good luck! My view is to go into the year with 40% of your budget uncommitted. Because consumers are in charge now, not you. And then be really close to your consumers, and really responsive. Move from being a director to being a connector.