The AAAA Leadership Conference kicked off this week from Laguna Niguel’s Ritz Carlton, attended by many luminaries that make up the world of ad agencies.
The conference opened with a fitting tribute to one of advertising’s legends, Phil Dusenberry (1936 – 2007).
Dusenberry developed GE's "bring good things to life" campaign, Pepsi's "new generation" slogan, the "New York Miracle" spots and Reagan's "Final Journey" documentary. He retired in 2002 as chairman of BBDO North America, one of the world’s most successful advertising agencies. The company grew rapidly under his guidance, but he was best known for his creative work over several decades at BBDO.
Tom Carroll, incoming Chairman of the AAAA and President-CEO TBWA Worldwide, headlined the conference with a down-to-earth vision of the comeback role of the agency as the place for brands to manage all of the disciplines that make up great advertising.
“Enough.” The banter between digital and traditional is over. “It’s all digital and it’s all about the data.”
“Enough.” A peek into discussions concerning agency fees reveals the need for compensation to be tied back to sales in an accountable manner.
Borrowing a phrase from Jay Chiat, Tom was on the mark with … “That was then. This is now.”
Tom .... we are all looking forward to the leadership and drive you will be bringing to the table as the AAAA incoming chairman.
Day one, the general conference gave way to a star-studded cast to include Irwin Gotlieb, Global CEO – GroupM; Lee Clow, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer – TBWA WW; Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman – NBC Entertainment and Universal Media; Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO – Google; and Matt Freeman, CEO WW – Tribal DDB. Nancy Hill, newly appointed President of The AAAA moved the conference forward with a strong call for diversity among agencies.
Gotlieb pronounced the coming of a common ecosystem with consolidated media streams; a targeting shift for consumers, moving away from behavior and towards “reaction to intention”; and the development of creative executions to fill the needs of a brand’s ability to segment audiences in and even more focused manner.
Lee Clow, a proponent of the Media Arts believes the internet has not yet matured to accept creative advertising and storytelling. Lee challenged agencies to hire young thinkers across many disciplines to explore that which has not yet been explored.
“Brands will become media” as exhibited by the Adidas “Sistine chapel” ad on the ceiling of the Cologne, Germany train station, and the All Blacks “Bonded by Blood”, New Zealand football poster.
Ben Silverman picked up on Gotlieb’s consolidated media stream argument, suggesting that agencies and their brands, the media, media sellers and buyers, technologists and planners need to work as a single unit to make the consumer experience whole.
Schmidt’s focus was on the shift in metrics to maximize and optimize campaigns through actionable measures. Asking if there was also a shift from ad-based revenue for Google to software, the response was a pat “no.” However, “if Google could send only one ad to a search query and that ad would be the one perfect ad, it would.” And it would charge handsomely.
The general session wrapped with a breakout session led by Matt Freeman, charging “consumers are the new media.”