May 11, 2011
If you have watched Mad Men then you’ve seen the portrait of Creative Director Don Draper. The always-on, creative demi-god that drives the Madison Avenue agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, The character regularly provides brilliant concepts pulled from a creative mind drowning in high-balls of ‘Old Fashioned’. A very romantic representation of the advertising industry. There is no denying that Don is as pimp as ad men come.
I’d like to paint a different portrait. One of the modern day Don Draper. A Don Draper that, to have client confidence and the power to influence an agency, would have to have up-to-the-minute understanding of market trends, a comprehension of demographics, insight into new communication platforms, a multiple screen display of his client’s Google Analytics and a massive Twitter following.
Don Draper would be a bit of a geek. The requirements of a modern day agency leader have changed drastically in the last 10 years. Although there is still a critical need for dynamic leaders to provide vision and act as the muse. The driving force of so many decisions are dictated not only by consumer behavior (that is now tracked at every touch of the keyboard), but also by a reading the tea-leaves of the ever changing technical world.
Clients are aware of this change too. There are so many instances that clients are now asking for data. Lots of it. What is my audience engaged with? How often can I expect to reach a particular customer? How many conversions can I expect for a given dollar? Can mobile users reach my website? How can I drive registration on my website from my print advertisement? Is social media relevant to my audience? And so on. They are getting it. Clients are also not willing to give up the show either. The expectation, and rightfully so, is that they will get answers and with a level of finish that is on par with the pitched presentation that had won their business.
What does this mean to the big ad agencies? Evolution. Progressive agencies are evolving. I’d like to say that it’s as easy as hiring an analytics expert, a user experience designer and a writer with enough web experience to transition client messaging into salient web content. It’s not. Now more than ever agencies need to fill the roles I just mentioned (as well as lots of other important roles), but also begin to educate the traditional account anchors. The agencies that are going to be able to respond to the change in marketing are those that not only have the people who can answer the tough questions, but the people who can determine who has the answers.
The Don Draper character-the new Ring Leader-has his team of Google savvy metrics nerds and iPhone toting Art Directors (all needed to run the show), but also have enough geek DNA to spin client need into solutions and services that are on-target and meet the sophisticated client’s needs.