Cavelossim Beach, GoaCraig Davis, chief creative officer, JWT Worldwide, tells Mint why it’s important for agencies to focus on the brand idea and why the advertising industry needs to rid itself of “idea racism”. Edited excerpts:
There is a lot of talk about the rebundling of agencies. Has JWT been considering it?
We bring media thinking inside the agency and into the development process very early on. So we encourage planners generally to have those media channel planning skills...the media landscape and particular media experience that the audiences are after. We sit at the table and discuss this in the very beginning. There is a lot of discussion about the return of a full service agency structure. So, are a JWT and MindShare going to get together? Not that I can see. Do we collaborate more closely on certain things? Well yes, we do. I think there is a certain realization that neither can function in the absence of the other. We just need to do it in a way that is completely constructive.
Branding ideas: Craig Davis.
You say “idea racism”, or the reluctance to use ideas originating from other parts of the world, is bad for advertising. Comment.
It’s human nature. The thing that will get in the way of it is basically ego. Other industries have been successful in sharing best practice and even best practices across industries. Advertising agencies and networks should be very good at sharing best practice and talent. That is the justification and advantage of having a network in the first place. I think Apple Inc. is a good example of networked creativity. If you deconstruct an iPod, you will find a lot of technology that Apple had nothing to do with. But pulls it together in a unique offering. They didn’t invent the MP3 player either.
What it has been good at is identifying it, licensing that technology, pulling it together in a form that is unique and giving people a user experience that is unique around that technology. That is the way the world works in more and more businesses. For a network in our business, it’s really important that we do that.
How far would you say JWT is from where you want it to be?
I always say it’s a long, long way to go. It’s changing, it’s shifting the culture of a large number of people in a company, which has a proud heritage and a lot of things to be proud of. And it’s just making the quality of the creative work inside that culture, much better. And it takes a while to do that.
I think we’ve improved significantly, to the extent that awards are important we’ve improved significantly. A better measure for me is what clients think, and the view has shifted significantly. And the third measure is how easy is it to recruit the best people and it’s a lot easier now that it was a few years earlier.
Do you think the brand idea is being lost in the talk of new media?
A lot of the discussion in the business is about what’s new and what’s now possible. You can deliver not just messaging but interaction and even payment through the mobile phone or creativity needs to be more data-led in the CRM, online space, etc.
And all those things are massively important, and genuinely exciting but it’s not all the same as all that activity adding up to something for a brand. And, I think the value of brands, brand thinking and the role of brand ideas in the 21st century has been underplayed.