Angus Crowther: I think we had by far the most interesting category, that’s no slight on the next one. I’m going to introduce the panel – Scott Morrison, what a CV . Diesel, Nike, I could go on. But he’s also worked at some incredible agencies: Saatchi and Saatchi, Wieden+Kennedy, so you have had the experience of both sides. Likewise Nigel, now with Virgin management as key projects director. Nigel arrived at Virgin Media in January 2011 as its first ever chief marketing officer. Also at Lloyd’s and also at a number of agencies. And Sarah Ellis, head of corporate responsibly and society for Sainsbury’s. Recognised as one of Management Today’s 35 women under 35, and a whole load of other stuff!
Angus Crowther: So we have three marketing titans indeed to give their views. We had a lot of entries which were quite fun to watch, but I think there was a lot of consensus about who was pretty good, and who could do better, and we will give you some feedback. The shortlist is as follows: LBI, PHD and Geometry.
Angus Crowther: So, the criteria. I’ll keep this short! Is it clear? Is it clearly communicated and demonstrated? How much effort went into it? (And we’ll talk a little more about that given we were all agency-side and we know how hard it is). The quality of the work, is it reflected? And crucially engagement, do you actually want to go and meet the team? I think that’s the most important part. So just a few questions first of all: Nigel, you’re an ex-agency head, you know how much blood, sweat and tears goes into producing these, how do you reckon they fared? What did you think?
Nigel Gilbert: You’ve got to give a lot of respect to the people who put these together. Someone mentioned earlier on, not giving it to the grad trainee to do these things, and of course you don’t. Every agency person in this room knows how much angst that they go through to create it. And the most extraordinary thing to me, on the agency side, was that we were really really good at doing this for our clients and totally sh*t at doing it for ourselves, because we couldn’t actually get the focus, we couldn’t actually really understand what it was that made us different. And we all believed that we were different. I think it was Nigel Bogle who said “all agencies start out different and end up the same”. And we kind of do end up the same. Most credentials that I ever did, and I must have done a few, ended up with a map of the world with agencies on it. A great deal of talk about creativity, and then a reel.
Nigel Gilbert: What I thought was really extraordinary about this was that we found that those three short-listed agencies had managed to do something quite different. Some in a traditional sort of way, and some in a very untraditional way. The way that we judged them was were they truthful, were they credible? Were they believable and would they arrest us, would they stop us from our normal management of the agency process and would they actually make us want to go and meet them? So I think that the winner, as you will see (eventually!) will have done that. But all of those three that you saw struck us as extremely good examples of how to do it. All of them different.
Sarah Ellis: I think there were probably three things for me. The first one is to be authentic to your agency and to your values as an agency. I think the ones that we found particularly engaging were those that showed personality which is a theme that’s come up a few times tonight. And I would encourage you to be a bit a bit braver and don’t be afraid to show a bit more of who you are and what you stand for. The second thing for me is around matching the creativity of what you do with the creativity of what you produce for yourself, to the point that Nigel was making. There were a few where the work looked fantastic, but I’m not sure that the film quite met the same standards. The last one was a reflection for me, having watched a lot of these films, was around language. There was quite a lot of use of lots of marketing terms and lots of marketing jargon and I think we all have to be careful not to get wrapped up in our own hype. There is something about being simple, being transparent, quite authentic and honest, and I think if you do that and use the amazing creative brains that you all have in your agencies, they’re the ones that really stick out for me. As a client, you can think about the person watching. I’ve only ever been client-side, you work in marketing for a reason. I want to see that creativity, I want to be wowed so be brave!
Angus Crowther: Be brave! Very good. Scott, you had some very strong views on the day, it was quite interesting watching you. How should they communicate their personalities and their creativity? There is a fine balance line between being creative and being perhaps overly zany or a bit cheesy. You had some strong views I seems to remember.
Scott Morrison: Well it was a very robust discussion with Nigel. What I would say, Suki said something earlier that I think’s very true (it was actually Julian who said it) – if you’ve got to put your vision and values up and around the office, then you clearly don’t have any vision and values. And believe me, I know how hard these things are. I was actually one of the grads who did the creds reel at Saatchi’s many years ago, thinking to myself “why would you give the person with the lowest stake holding in the business the chance to do something, actually the thing that the agency needs the most which is getting new business in. I managed to produce a good reel, but good god I wouldn’t want to be critiqued in this forum now! But what I would say is that I look back at that video now and I remember what I thought, what’s going to be great is I’m going to go around the agency and get people sticking v’s up at the screen and sticking their tongues out and jumping around on sofas. And back to the original point, if you’ve got to show that in a reel then you really don’t have that in your agency. If you’ve got to show that you’re zany and wacky and crazy and that you’ve got a personality, by doing a very cliché then you have to ask yourselves, “do we really have that personality in our agency or not? Are we making it fake or are we making it real?” So to be authentic.
Scott Morrison: The other thing is that we often talk about single-minded propositions and we get single-minded message and make everything really succinct and clear. Then in a five minute film it feels that we’re trying to tell everything to everybody and we don’t really use the medium in the way that video and film is. The people who did this best really used the medium of film brilliantly: Single clear message, single minded proposition, fantastic execution, great production values, it could have been an ad. You could have run that for a client, and that got across the personality of the agency that won the best because it felt like it was genuine, authentic and real and when we saw it, we all would have picked up the phone to the winners of tonight. And that clearly is the difference, don’t do anything that you would in five years (or fifteen years in my case!) cringe at, which I do! Just be true, and authentic and brave!
Nigel Gilbert: It was really an extraordinary process because as you say Scott, there was a lot of didactic stuff, there was a lot of wilfully zany madcap agency having fun which actually is a huge turn-off guys, it’s a huge turn-off guys as it looks like they’re having a party and you’re not invited to it – so don’t do that! Actually, what you want to do is demonstrate what you’re really good at to your point, Sarah. Be creative, be brilliant and persuade us that you can do it for us.