"Creativity should happen like a factory process."
Indeed, words that would make true-blue creative folk in agencies recoil in horror, as images of an assembly-line operation spring to mind.
But that's exactly how Jean-Marie Dru, president & CEO, TBWA Worldwide, likes to sock people out of lethargy. Disruption, he calls it - this concept of challenging conventional thought. Sounds very militant.
It isn't, Dru assures. "Disruption is a mindset, a methodology, of unsettling preconceived ideas, assumptions and prejudices that exist everywhere - in the client's mind, in the consumer's mind, within the agency. Disruption helps us think bigger in our effort to build brands in a highly competitive, technology-enabled economy."
Dru cites the example of TBWA's advertising for Oil of Olay (also dwelt upon in his book Disruption: Overturning Conventions and Shaking Up the Marketplace). "Traditionally, skin-care companies had always used the word 'youth' as a connotation of beauty," Dru explains. "Then someone turned around and pointed out that Joan Collins was very beautiful, and she was in her fifties. We realized that beauty had nothing to do with age, beauty was not necessarily a function of youth." This was the disruption that led to Oil of Olay shedding the word youth from its communication. 'A lifetime of beautiful skin' became the brand claim.
Dru - who co-founded the BDDP International, which merged with TBWA Worldwide in 1998 - attributes the genesis of the disruption theory to the fact that he has spent his advertising years on both sides of the table, creative and planning. "During the course of my career I figured out that the brief is the most important factor," he says. "A good brief may result in a good campaign, but a bad one will surely end in a bad campaign."
Which is why he emphasizes that the 'idea' should be present at the strategy stage itself. "When the idea is present in the brief, its creative interpretation happens faster. The better the briefs, the more the creativity, the more the ads, the more the money. Like a factory," he explains.
It certainly explains why TBWA is one of the most awarded networks. "No other network can pretend to be as creative as we are," Dru's chest swells with pride. "Johannesburg, Paris, Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam… we are really proud of the work that comes out of these offices."
And India? Dru is quite impressed with the 'thinking' that occurs in India. At the same time, he admits that inconsistency has been a characteristic at TBWA Anthem. "The remedy is strategic planning," he informs. "We see the potential here, so we are likely to invest more," he says, without going into details.
Yes, more offices in more cities is certainly on the cards. Bringing more international business to India will also happen. But the emphasis will be on linking the advertising, interactive, direct marketing and PR divisions, so as to provide total solutions to clients.
Which is why TBWA's direct marketing arm, Tequila, will be launched in India "within the next six months". Also, Anthem PR offices will be opened in Chennai and Mumbai by end November. Dru is also hopeful that India could develop into the global hub for the TBWA's interactive division, given the "abundance of talent India has in this sector".
With 'Change the Rules' becoming the battle cry at TBWA offices around the world, chances are that at Anthem too, fresh ideas and disruptions will occur more frequently.
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