The founder and CEO of independent creative agency StrawberryFrog, Scott Goodson tells Mint what makes creative shops more fun and agile than the “dinosaurs”. With offices in New York, Brazil and Amsterdam, Goodson and his team have managed to challenge the big boys globally and have worked with brands such as Morgan Stanley, Frito Lay, Asics and Microsoft.
How would a creative from a shop have an edge over that of a network?
StrawberryFrog has a creative edge over a huge network in three very specific areas. Please note that the quality of talent inside the big networks is excellent; they are some of the best.
However, that leads me to the first area:
1. Process. The structure of the huge agencies is so big and so bureaucratic that great ideas get trampled on and the system kills creativity and fresh ideas. This is a source of great frustration for both clients and creatives because some of the best work never gets produced.
2. Freedom. It’s better to be a pirate than work for the Royal Navy! Creative independent agencies such as StrawberryFrog create an environment of freedom, which is the kind of environment that creative people thrive and blossom in. Most huge corporate agencies are managed with fear, and fear does not lead to better work; fear-based environments are not environments where open-minded people let go and really think differently.
3. Innovation vs Follow the money. The structure of the big agencies has been established to make money off television commercials; there is no financial incentive to be innovative. Innovation is pushed on agencies by their clients and does not come from the agencies themselves, primarily because the big bucks come when you produce big television campaigns.
Any India plans that you could share with us?
We are looking into the ideas proposed to us by several people in India about opening StrawberryFrog here. However, we would need to continue to meet with and evaluate the right elite partners to form a business venture with. StrawberryFrog is entirely opposite to (different from) the huge corporate holding companies. We do everything the huge clients need and want, we just do it differently than the dinosaurs.
How has the definition of advertising been changing, and what impact will this have on award formats?
Advertising is going through a revolution just like every other industry, such as the car industry, the journalist business. Advertising is now about innovation and about culture creation; it is less about advertising in the traditional way. Enough with predictions, the reality is that hundreds of millions of people are now members of social networks online, and they are incredibly sticky. Anyone who is not investing considerable time and effort to understand this new medium is not in tune with the new marketing world that is here.
The same goes for advances in mobility and text marketing. The issue with award shows is that typically they award what has gone before instead of highlighting new ways of thinking to inspire the next generation. In the past, award shows inspired my generation to be like the generation before. But, today, the opportunities to express an idea are so many and so varied that award shows have trouble keeping up with the speed of innovation.
Where do you think Indian advertising could improve, especially if it is to stand out at international awards such as Cannes?
I think the challenge the Indian market has ahead of it is to develop its incredibly unique and creative culture to the extent that India starts to export really amazing brands to the US and Europe and other markets. The opportunity is for the Indian marketing community to establish the culture of brand building that helps Indian-made goods and services compare with the world’s best from a brand point of view.
Some countries have a historical knack of doing this, like the US, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, where the brand-building culture is old and well known in business schools. Swedish students studying business are taught the Volvo and Absolut Vodka story about how to build a brand with one core idea, and that every ad ties back to this one distinctive thought. But I came from Canada, a market where there isn’t really a lot of brand-building culture or history. Canadians dig stuff out of the ground and sell it.
We don’t have a history of brand building. But, in today’s world, ideas are what matter, and this is where Indian creative minds can make a huge, invaluable contribution.