Re-Inventing The Ad Agency – CATFOA

Excellent event with a great speaker, the presentation mentioned quite a few resources worthy further investigation. Edward Boches (@edwardboches),  Chief Creative Officer/Chief Social Media Officer, MULLEN (Boston) presented his view on the future, which, contrary to many people in the industry, he was actively embracing.

Media landscape is changing; some of the examples:

Wine Library TV (explanation) was a phenomenally successful video blog produced by a wine enthusiast. The blog attempted to change the perception of wine as difficult to understand subject to a much more accessible topic.

Wine Library TV creator also became a popular book author.

Lemonade – a movie created by a person who lost his job in the advertising industry (movie on Hulu).   The movie described several people who were able to transform their lives positively after layoffs. The movie became possible with the help of social media to connect people and sponsors.

Respectful agencies that specialized on TV advertising only went out of business..

New media is changing the world and nobody knows what will happen.

Some of emerging networks:

LiveFyre – a site dedicated to finding and discussing news in different topic areas.

“LiveFyre is a place for topical, public, live-streaming conversation and debate between friends and people who like the same stuff you do. Start a Fyre about virtually anything- articles, blog posts, videos, tweets, you name it, then pose a question or statement to spark the debate.”

Blippy – a site allowing to see what other people are buying.

“Thanks to a just-launched, Twitter-like service called Blippy, you can now post all your credit and debit card purchases to the Web, for all to see. Lucky us.” More..

Including very familiar  foursquare

Nobody (including brands and agencies) wants to change… But consumer is no longer a spectator; the consumer is co-creator. Consumers can produce ad parodies faster… and much cheaper.  Community is the new form of content.

Consumers do not want to have “one perfect thing” – what is spectacularly explained in Malcom Gladwell’s presentation “Malcom Gladwell On Spaghetti Sauce.”

“Good-enough revolution.” Definition of quality changed: fast, easy, convenient is now sufficient (example – mp3, which is technically gives an inferior quality sound).

Before: advertising told stories

Now: finding people to tell their stories (crowd sourcing is picking up).

Interesting: typical crowd sourcing efforts produce too much of consumer generated content that is bad enough to be unusable.  However, this content can give a very useful insight into brand perception by the consumers – uninspired entries are not waste but a great research material.

If an advertiser tells stories, they should be better than “news releases.”  Google Chrome ads were so interesting, that explanation of how they were produced became as popular.

Original Google Chrome ads

Explanation of how these ads were produced

Before: an ad

Now: an ad, a landing page, social media channels… somebody expressing their dissatisfaction…

Future advertiser will be a choreographer, a curator of many channels and communities, rather than an ad producer.

How agencies can survive?

  • encourage people to use social media
  • changing strategic approach: what is consumer’s relationship to the media?”
  • smashing the silos

New campaign approach: creating a community first, and then promoting the product/service to the community.

Agencies are building up analytics staff (yes, metrics! 🙂  )


  • Targeting + Creative + Conversation Strategy (it is easier to create a community than to decide what to do with it later)
  • Curator/Choreographer will emerge as a new important role
  • Crowd sourcing  will grow
  • Whoever hires the best digital talent will win
  • Creativity will matter more than ever (since attention can no longer be bought)

The change is happening:

Before: it took fewer people to create a message

Now: all people need to work together (including web developers and brand strategists);  people need to know each other and not be afraid to give recommendations.

Mullen –  a great resource for information and cutting edge ideas.

Edward Boches’ presentation was one of the best during the three years of CATFOA history.  It encouraged me to think about curating and creating (and creativity). These are opposite concepts in my opinion; if the brand is trying to “create” an innovative ad, it is not trying to crowd-source. Crowd sourcing seems to be more “statistically relevant” – most creative undertakings are gambles, while searching and testing should produce more reliable results. My guess is curating will win over creating, but it is just a guess…. 😉


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