Twice a year, 12 advertising agencies from around the country gather in a pre-determined city to visit unique agencies & companies of note within the ad industry, listen to enthusiastic speakers, and most importantly, discuss agency successes, failures, struggles and opportunities. Speaking among peers, the state of the agencies is explored in a roundtable discussion and then finished with a show and tell of recent work. Each IAN member’s specialty ranges from banking and car dealers to food & beverage. Yet, the diversity of the group is its greatest strength; despite all differences, Team IAN always seems to find level ground. When you take a seat at the table, invaluable advice is liberally shared because one member, at one time or another, has likely been through it.
This month, the Fall 2015 meeting of the Intermarket Agency Network took place in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by member agency, Jackson Spalding. The agenda included a visit to Chick-Fil-A’s innovation center, Hatch, where symbolism of fostered creativity was sprinkled throughout the space. No interior elements were of permanence; the chairs, tables, walls were all movable, expressing an openness to evolving over time. Red cardboard boxes float, like ideas, into the air, then emerge into paper airplanes. Even the opening of the Hatch space in December 2012 included throwing of eggs filled with paint onto a canvas to represent Hatch’s vision that it’s okay to get a little bit messy. Dwain Cox, Director of Innovation & Design, walks Team IAN through the space where prototypes of Chick-Fil-A restaurants are built and supply chain set-ups are designed and tested.
His most insightful comments were, naturally, on innovation, for agencies:
Avoid the “Yeah, But…” mentality and maintain an open attitude of “Yeah, Obviously…”. Recognize when you’re becoming the resistance. Youthfulness is an attitude & demeanor you have control over.
The big reveal is a thing of the past. Show the work to the Client as its being created.
Set 5-month goals. Not just 5-year goals. Observe the short-term for constant course-correct.
Work in short bursts. Get feedback regularly.
The best way to bring an idea to life is with a prototype so the idea can be seen, touched, felt.
The day progressed with a visit to WPP-owned, Mindshare, a global media agency network and home of adaptive networking. After a tour of the open-plan, 2-floor office space, the team was sat down for a presentation of the “Culture Vulture” report: a look at top 10 consumer megatrends of the year that marketers need to know. These included the “man-braid” to replace the famed “man bun”, Brewtein, supplemental beer infused with protein, use of NASA announcements in marketing materials, branded selfie lenses on Snapchat, “phubbing” (partner phone snubbing), extreme phone pinching, limited edition Pepsi Perfect in honor of Back to the Future II and new people-rated app, Peeple.
Most fascinating about these megatrends are the interesting, somewhat contradictory, wants and needs of the Millennial Generation. There appears to be a theme of selfishness/self-serving tendencies around social media and reputation management in the public sphere, while Millennials also need brands to give back to the community and genuinely help others.
Day Two started out with a speech by Joey Reiman, named “one of the 100 people who will change the way the world thinks” by Fast Company and Founder and Chairman of global consultancy, BrightHouse, a company with a mission to bring greater purpose to the business world. One member’s mention of liking Reiman’s pants drove the trajectory of his talk beginning with the status: The most important thing today is humanistic appreciation. Connecting with another human being by trying to find out more about them. Deep knowledge means soul. After running his own advertising agency in the 80s and 90s, Reiman wanted to start over. Advertising and marketing is the command of language and business; how could we go beyond simply convincing people to buy goods but do good, he thought? How can we look at not just the next quarter but the next quarter century? By creating ideas with humanity. With purpose. Asking the “Why”. Creating an idea with purpose is accomplished by focusing on two quadrants of understanding: How Relevant & How Unexpected? Other highlights: Virtue Without Action Is Useless. Data is BS. Provide Human Truth. The intersection of your unique talents & the needs of the world is your purpose, your vocation, your calling. Timeless Purpose + Need In The World = Purpose Activation. Purpose Precedes Strategy.
Another successful IAN Meeting to check off the list, with inspired bites of knowledge to bring home with us. Next Stop: San Diego, Spring 2016.