Tom Fishburne marketoonist

A picture is worth a thousand words, or at least that’s how the saying goes. One man who agrees whole-heartedly is Tom Fishburne, perhaps better known as one of Marketing Week’s longest-serving regular contributors: the Marketoonist.

“I think of cartoons as little encapsulated stories, a leaping-off point for more in-depth conversations,” he says. “Cartoons are one of those mediums that have always been tacked up on a fridge door because it’s a simple shorthand that reflects a point of view people want share.”

Fishburne is a marketer by trade and started drawing cartoons to entertain his co-workers while working at General Mills. After several years in the industry he took the plunge seven years ago and made being the Marketoonist his full-time job, helping businesses to communicate marketing stories with cartoons, as well as supplying his drawings to publications such as Marketing Week.

“It’s an exciting time to work in marketing as there are so many new ways to get in front of audiences, but it has never been trickier to keep up with the pace of change in technology. It’s that friction I find funniest,” he says.

The universal truths of marketing

Although the industry is going through an intense period of change there are certain topics that are as relevant and true today as they were when he began 15 years ago. Breaking down silos is one such perennial challenge, he says, as is communication between clients and agencies, which is only exacerbated when new technologies emerge.

I got emails from all these people that were following the news on WikiLeaks saying that one of my cartoons had popped up in an NSA presentation.

Tom Fishburne, the Marketoonist

“I hear from a lot of people about the things they’re struggling with. I get a real sense of what’s very topical but also what’s the same year in, year out,” he explains.

“The best cartoons are the ones that reflect your situation – maybe in an absurd way, but they reflect some kind of pain point or issue.”

Fishburne, who will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing on 5 October, says it came as “a big surprise” to see how common certain issues are. Despite starting out as the Marketoonist for the amusement of his FMCG colleagues, he quickly saw people from other sectors and markets sign up to receive his weekly email so they could share their own experiences and bugbears.

He says the “weirdest connection” came after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) top-secret documents in a 2013 leak. “I got emails from all these people that were following the news on WikiLeaks saying that one of my…