Guts, Entrepreneurs and Speed. Highlights from the Ad Age Small Agency Conference.

On July 15, a few of the Hookers attended the Ad Age Small Agency Conference in New Orleans. The folks at Ad Age did a great job rounding up talented speakers, from both large and small agencies, to share their insights and stories. Here are a few of the highlights we’d like to share:

Guts creates opportunity. Thinking big matters. Sharon Napier of Partners Napier kicked off the conference with these bold statements. Having the guts to take risks can lead to great results. Partners Napier took a risk on one corporate project for Kodak called “Winds of Change.” By going overboard on this one project, Partners Napier went on to become agency of record for the Kodak.

Be an entrepreneur. Kenny Tomlin, Founder and CEO of Rockfish Interactive discussed how small agencies can earn revenues outside of standard agency offerings. Along with building brands, Rockfish has launched several of their own, including Silver Joe’s Coffee. The agency also has licensed several of the technologies they’ve developed. Launching brands, developing new technologies and running an ad agency is a lot to juggle, but Kenny points out the best time to try something like this is when you’re small.

There are no boring products. There are boring brands. Eric Ryan, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Architect of Method talked about the role design plays in their marketing. The company believes investing heavily in design to make Method stand out on the shelves. Eric sees the money spent on design as a marketing expense. He also stressed the importance of having a Brand Philosophy that comes from within the company. This gives Method its distinct personality and helps turn everyone at Method into a brand evangelist.

Eric shared a great story about Method’s HR department. He stated that HR is their real marketing department and rather than give new candidates a standard interview, Method assigns potential hires a project and then teams that person with a group of current staffers. They have 20 minutes to complete the project and can usually tell within that time span whether or not that candidate is Method material.

Fast, cheap and out of control. Tor Myhren, Chief Creative Officer at Grey, spoke about how their agency views creative in a world where information moves at warp speed.

Fast is related to the speed at which work has to be turned around.

Cheap was about the cost of producing work. Using the evolution from records to MP3s as an analogy, Tor demonstrated the fact that people are willing to sacrifice quality for speed. Rather than waiting to see something on TV, they’ll watch it on their phone or laptop. Knowing that, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to spend $3 million producing a television commercial people are going to be watching on their smartphones. You can get away with lower production values today.

Out of Control focused on the viral impact of today’s marketing. Once you post a video on YouTube, Twitter or one of the many other social sites, it’s out of your control. Your content, which is gold, is now in the hands of the public to share and spread, or crap all over it.

Tor backed up his talk by showing clips of the E*TRADE baby. Grey created a slew of outtake videos and posted them on YouTube. Many of those clips have more views than the original spots themselves.

Account executives must sharpen their digital knowledge. There was also a panel discussion during the conference with Marc Brownstein, Bart Cleveland, Phil Johnson and Tom Martin. Each of these small agency owners were asked about various topics. One that rose to the top was the difficulty in finding AEs who understood the digital world enough to offer their clients solutions. Digital isn’t going away and the more an account person understands it, the better the opportunities they’ll find in the agency business.

Click here to read more about the Ad Age Small Agency Conference.

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~ by hookusa on July 26, 2010.

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