Madison Avenue is a hotbed for creativity and innovation. The evolving nature of the digital world means new opportunities and platforms, and also means that agencies are constantly pushing the envelope to meet new client needs, develop new campaigns, and rise to new challenges from global competition, the economy, and the like. The constant change that agencies are moving with is what has propelled the creative industry forward all these years.

 The Way I See It

  • I see more agencies successfully melding creative and data to meet the needs of clients and deliver the type of advertising and marketing campaigns that build upon the new trove of consumer data to frame brands in a positive light.
  •  I see competition in all industry segments constantly growing, with new brands launching all over the world, and each agency being forced to develop creative that both trumps competition in its segment and also stands out for consumers in terms of advertising.

The Way The Industry Sees It

I sat down with Peter Krivkovich, Chairman and CEO of integrated marketing communications agency Cramer-Krasselt, to discuss the industry and the state of today’s agency.

Cramer-Krasselt’s business model is built on the idea of integration with a constantly growing range of disciplines, from creative to public relations to CRM. How do you think this notion of integration plays into your work?

Integration is a highly over-claimed word. The question is not whether everyone has access to those various disciplines – the better question is how does everyone have access to them. If they are run as separate profit centers, separate profit and loss statements (P&L) with the people heading them up having separate budgets or separate revenue-based bonuses, then it can’t possibly result in sustained unbiased contributions to a marketing solution. The former is more akin to the old corporate world conglomerates. And they didn’t work out that well – few synergies beyond a revenue pile-on. Integration plays into our work from inception. Because we are outcome – rather than output – driven, because we have no profit-center walls between people, we can have a diverse group of thinkers around the table minute one, with no discipline politics agenda biasing a solution. It’s never about simply checking boxes – it’s all about connection points that will drive results and that require multiple disciplines in constant motion and in constant sync.

For any creative firm, there is a constant pressure to show return on investment (ROI) and to harness data to drive results. How do you think data has changed the role of advertising?

Data has certainly made us smarter about the people with whom we need to connect. If we’re smarter about them we can get closer to them and be more relevant to them. And, of course, data – big or small – helps us optimize our approach in ways we never could before. We’re much more real-time now. It’s an exciting development, and really just beginning. But like integration, it’s also a terribly over-used word – and more importantly, data is a misused one.  Getting consumer information is no longer difficult, it’s prolific. Knowing which data leads to genuine actionable insights is. That’s where we concentrate our talent. Not on data compilation and output, but on what specifically will lead to an outcome for what’s next.

Continue Reading Breaking the Traditional Agency Model in Today’s Data-Driven Economy with Cramer-Krasselt’s Chairman & CEO, Peter Krivkovich

Spotting industry trends and making forecasts for a year ahead is a challenge, especially in an age of constant change and technological developments.  The way I see it, in terms of trends, it is critical to seek out the best when you need to spot trends and discern the real change elements at work.  After offering my year in review and looking back at the trends in 2012, it’s time to also look ahead.  We are at the dawn of a new year – a year filled with potential and uncertainty.  So, let’s get some clarity on what the future holds.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I had the pleasure of speaking with Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas (formerly Euro RSCG) Worldwide PR, North America, who is viewed as the trendspotter in the world today, about her thoughts for the year ahead and some secret tips to spotting trends for the advertising industry.

I’m always fascinated by your annual trends reports.  Without revealing any secrets, could you explain your process for identifying trends and making forecasts for the coming year?

My thing is pattern recognition, incorporating an eye for the oddball statistic.  There would have been no metrosexual mania, at least not instigated by me, if there hadn’t been a few stunning numbers popping.  Back in 2003, guys began to feel they were no longer guaranteed to be CEO of the bedroom or the boardroom.  They suddenly had a serious interest in the kitchen.   Straight men were increasingly comfortable socializing with gay men.  2003 seems like the dark ages, but it illustrates the kinds of observations that set me off on an investigation.  Ever since Al Gore invented the Internet (kidding) in the early 1990s, I have been a huge information surfer.  Today, this process can be automated for me with services such as Factiva clipping in real time.  Finally, my trendspotting would be much less robust if not for an informal network of trendspotters around the globe who log in all kinds of sightings.  (In fact, I did not invent the word metrosexual—it was invented by journalist Mark Simpson in the early 1990s.  But it was forwarded to me by a colleague and I matched the word to my sighting, Men Get Softer – the rest was history.)  This past year, I launched TrendsU, an e-learning program about how to trendspot, for all Havas staff around the world.  About 550 people from around the world studied the four modules and shared their sightings with me, and even pictures are now compiled (the thousand-words adage never rang more true) on our TrendsU Pinterest board.[/a]

In 2012, you focused on the trend toward achieving a grainy, “Polaroid” effect for digital photography with the popularity of apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic. How do you think the world of apps and wireless will evolve in 2013?

Wireless will be so ubiquitous that discussing it will be almost like talking about the Internet or even the dial tone.  I agree with a recent post of yours that it will be very interesting to see how the advertising, marketing and communications industries will adapt to a wireless world.  I remember helping on a pitch for IBM back in the dark ages for which we interviewed people about the future, and Kevin Kelly, the co-founding editor of Wired, talked to us about the future like it would happen a week from Thursday.  Well, it’s finally a week from Thursday, and always-on, constant connectivity is the new normal.  People take mobile devices to bed, to the toilet and onto airplanes and assume, voilà, they’ll be connected because connectivity is a given.  Back in 1993, Kelly told us connectivity would be like air or water.  Apps for 2013 are like software was a decade ago, except that the innovations are coming every 22 seconds.  Before you know you need an app, there it is.  Simplification has been a trend for 15 years, and apps are the epitome of simplification.  Branded apps are a given.  Tablets are making apps even more essential.  I want to do more on the fly, more quickly, and an app ensures I get it done, seamlessly.  The app I expect next year is for voting – the most prehistoric thing we still do without much connectivity.  Seriously, in 2013, you want me to walk to a school and fill out some paperwork and pull levers?  How very last century.  Once Americans can vote online using apps and smartphones or tablets, expect a much more engaged population to be that much more connected on issues and topics that matter to them.

Continue Reading What’s Next in 2013: A Lesson in Trendspotting with Marian Salzman