I ventured on down to City Winery on Monday to catch a Creative Week panel hosted by Facebook’s Carolyn “I’m wearing my TOMS and they still say I’m looking too corporate” Everson. She cleverly bounced the discussion around the age-old, but so far unsolved, industry issues of compensation models, the rise of digital and social, industry structure, collaborative agency teams, attracting talent to our business and the importance of culture to agencies.
The panel consisted of some of the industry’s finest creative minds, including our own Jeff Benjamin, Euro RSCG’s Lee Garfinkel, Taxi’s Dave Clemans, Jimmy Smith from Amusement Park Entertainment, and R/GA‘s Chris Colborn. Here’s my wrap:
After an early warm-up question on compensation models, Diageo CMO Andy Fennell’s quote about how marketing used to be like 10-pin bowling, but now is now more like a game of pinball was brought up. Common themes from the panelists addressing this were around staying nimble, assembling a team of “make it happen” people and getting the clients on board with agility, including a process to back it up.
The Whopper Sacrifice campaign was cited as a prime example of not really knowing how something was going to play out, and how evolving in real-time helps amplify exactly what people love.
This led into a bit of chicken-and-egg dissent about whether the idea or a solid execution was more important. Dave led with a bold statement, voicing that ideas are useless (adding, “Until you make them happen”) vs. a thought stream of without an idea, what are you building? Chris favored “get to the right idea, but get the idea right,” and Jeff concurred, that sometimes we all take too long to pick an idea, leaving no time to make it shine.
The word “idea” was said nearly as many times as Jimmy Smith said “dope” to describe anything that was, well, dope, begging the conclusion that it is still about the idea—of course, followed by the perfect delivery, no matter the channel or medium.
Those of you who have heard Jeff’s story about the A-Team being locked in a garage with a fridge and a pin and somehow turning them into a tank will know that B.A. Baracus and co. are close to Jeff’s heart. “I love it when a plan comes together.”
But the simplicity of this analogy is what is so golden. Each discussion kept coming back to assembling A-Teams—whether it was answering Carolyn’s question of “Who would you take in a life raft: your art director, copywriter, or social technologist?,” the issues of talent recruitment or how big is too big when it comes to an agency.
Scaling generated quite a healthy discussion with an overall feeling that we haven’t yet found the winning formula. Carolyn talked about the “village of 150″ phenomenon frequently attributed as “Dunbar’s number,” and that the average number of Facebook friends a person has around the world is 130-150. How does this affect our businesses as staff numbers get up to 300, 400, 1,000-plus?
Well, Taxi’s name comes out of a philosophy that the core team on any piece of business should be able to fit in a taxi. And Jimmy has one very simply rule of eradicating culture-contaminators: “No Assholes Allowed”—determined by asking the question, “Why is this guy still here, making everybody’s life miserable?” Priceless.
All in all ’twas a good discussion, completely void of the yawn-worthy head nodding and “I agree. Building upon what X said” conversations some panels can attract. But come on, what did you really expect from a line-up of creatives? Purely aligned POVs? Well done, folks.
— Gemma is the Global Communications Manager for JWT Worldwide. Follow @gemss