Articles of Interest

Monday, November 01, 2004

AdWeek 10/11 Art & Commerce - Where to Go Next

Where To Go Next
October 11, 2004

How many art directors and copywriters looking for the big bang—the big idea that will enthrall the public—watched Smokey Bear, Ronald McDonald and the Pillsbury Doughboy march down Madison Avenue last month and felt wistful, wishing it were that simple today?

Everyone knows the world is changing, and how it communicates is changing, and the ad industry is learning to speak a new language. At two recent industry confabs—the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Creative Conference in New York and Adweek's own 30th Creative Seminar in San Francisco—creative directors from shops large and small, hip and not so hip, discussed this new world: how to build brands in it, how to change creative cultures, how to succeed in increasingly difficult jobs, how to reach consumers in a fractured media environment.

Beneath a swath of uncertainly and confusion in this age of DVRs, there were rays of optimism. As agencies are forced to rethink their communications strategies outside the 30-second spot, it would seem that the sky's the limit for new ideas—ones that go beyond that old great advertising invention, the friendly, often fuzzy, spokescharacter.

Is this the dawn of a new golden era for the advertising industry? Is a long overdue creative renaissance on the way?

If so, a few agencies might lead the way. During a panel at the Adweek conference on agencies' use of the Internet, Alex Bogusky, partner and executive creative director of Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, addressed the room from the audience, and said that when someone from his creative department e-mails him an idea for a TV spot, he deletes it without reading it. They should know better.

CP+B has shown that with a little ingenuity and a lot of media savvy, even the smallest budgets can make some noise. And more often than not, TV isn't the point of entry.

Or take BBDO. In an effort to secure its power position in an uncertain future, the New York agency overhauled its creative ranks this summer, replacing Ted Sann, best known for his Super Bowl ads, with David Lubars, best known for the interactive success story of BMW Films.

Addressing the 4A's conference, Lubars urged the audience to expand "the colors of the palette" to include nontraditional endeavors like BMW Films and the live soccer billboard in Tokyo created by TBWA\180 for Adidas. Commercials and magazine spreads are not going away, he said, but the industry must expand its toolbox.

Much of the talk at the Adweek conference was about new frontiers. "It's the best time to be in the business," Bogusky said as he accepted Adweek's first Innovation Award, recognizing CP+B's media-agnostic approach to brand building. "I wish I was 25 again."

"Being young in this business right now is the most intoxicating thing there is," added Chuck McBride, ecd of TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco, pacing back and forth, cheeks flushed, as he gave the closing keynote speech.

Of course, it won't be easy. "Things we come up with now will be the stale things other people imitate," Bogusky said. But he added, "It's not a scary time. The dynamics are out there [to find solutions]. We need to use intellect, not research and focus groups, to find them."

"We have a couple of big problems in front of us," McBride said. "Let's go solve a few of them. Surprise everybody. Blow people away."

If Lubars can modernize BBDO, the impact on mainstream agencies could be monumental. And with shops like CP+B beating the drum with a new voice, more will follow. Maybe the revolution is already here. Maybe you just have to decide whether to join in.


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