Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Inspiring Brand Loyalty on FOX

Last month, I had a hugely entertaining time talking over the big issues facing the advertising industry. Was this around a boardroom table? No. Was it in a smoke-filled room? Not on your life. It was where it should be, out in the open for everyone to hear, and it was on the FOX Business Network. When people tell me that television is dead, I reach for my remote. I’ve had a fantastic response to that one short interview. TV is still the best and fastest way to make powerful emotional connections. As a way to present ideas, it is unparalleled as long as your ideas are clear, focused and make sense fast.

So what did I talk to FOX Business’ Dagen McDowell about? First I disabused her of the notion that ad spending is becoming a thing of the past. I told her that as far as I’m concerned, advertising is the most fun it has ever been, and in large part that’s because all the rules have been thrown out. The reality is that our biggest client, P&G, has increased its advertising spend and Toyota is unstoppable. Sure, some companies on lower levels are finding it tough and have started playing defence, but that’s not the way it is at the top. What great companies see in tough times is opportunity - and we’re right there with them.

For us, times aren’t tough, they’re exciting. In our industry, most of us are faced with a simple proposition: change or become irrelevant.

We’ve chosen to change. The digital revolution is the best thing that has ever happened to us. For a start, it has meant that the average age of our staff is now around 27. These are all people who grew up in the digital age. Give them a fountain pen and they’ll just squirt ink on the floor trying to figure out what it is. They don’t find advertising a risky profession to join. All they see are opportunities to do cool stuff that they never believed possible. It has never been easier to attract great talent into our business. Make a movie, develop a computer game, collaborate with feature film directors, dance with wolves. Their horizons are as big as they want to push them – and you sure won’t see me fencing them in.