Marketers need to face reality by recognising that digital is now what drives commercial communications.

Speaking at the Checkout annual conference – Brands At The Crossroads – in the Four Seasons hotel, Ogilvy Group chief executive JP Donnelly (pictured) said there are not two worlds, an offline and an online world – we now live and breathe in a digital world.

There is only one world, Donnelly told delegates. For Irish marketers to define that shift, they must recognise and accept it is a digital world – and digital is cascading way beyond sales and marketing.

As Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts says: "I grew up in a digital world and I speak English. The next generation is growing up in a digital world and they speak social."


Donnelly believes all successful brands will have a social core at heart. Consumers are no longer interested in being marketed 'at' – they can see the signs a mile off. They no longer sit around waiting for messages, they live in the blogosphere.

Over half of them have built their ecosystem around their smartphone, a 'must-have' for social acceptance and success. The marketing catch-cry of 'target market' no longer matters – consumers as we know them are house owners, neighbours, friends, bloggers – they are people.

Donnelly believes marketing success still rests on human communication, but is also about knowing how to engage with people as willing accomplices. Brands must operate 24 hours a day, year round.

'Always on' is the new rule in connecting with consumers who have multiple touch-points and channels.

Old-style media planning, buying and creating communications must give way to forming communities and building relationships.