Advertising Interviews

Lucy Jameson

Executive Strategy Director  | 04 Nov 2010

"DDB has always believed that 'creativity is the most powerful force in busines'. Today, people are more empowered and connected than ever before - they are the most important media - so creativity itself needs to change. Today, we use our creativity to produce ideas that people play with, participate in and pass on. Ideas that connect people with people, not just people with brands. We call this Social Creativity."

Lucy read History at Oxford and joined BMP DDB Needham, as it was then called, as a graduate trainee planner, in 1993.

Since then, she has remained ensconced in glamorous Paddington, working on most of the agency’s business, including award winning campaigns for Barclaycard, Vodafone, the Meat and Livestock Commission, London Transport, the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Central Office of Information, Pepsico and Unilever. Currently, she looks after Unilever’s global ice cream portfolio which she helped win for DDB in 2008. She also works on the Financial Times and is proud of the recent re-launch campaign ‘We live in Financial Times’ which won Campaign’s best poster campaign of the year.

In the UK, she is probably best known for working on the ‘love it or hate it’ campaign for Marmite, which began in 1996. Since then, the brand has prospered and won lots of creative and effectiveness awards, including a five star award winning IPA effectiveness paper, written by Lucy in 1998.

In 2001, she topped Campaign’s list of the best planners in the UK. In 2002, she was made head of planning at DDB UK. Since she has run the department, DDB has won the title of ‘IPA Effectiveness Agency of the Year’ no less than three times in a row in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

On top of her London role, she now chairs DDB’s global Planning Futures Group and, in 2009, she became the youngest ever member of DDB’s global executive committee. In this capacity, Lucy is responsible for guiding the network’s positioning and its planning toolkit.

Lucy believes that creativity is changing. Today, we live in a hyper-connected world. A world where everyone can create, control and distribute their own content. A world where ‘I share therefore I am’. A world where our social networks influence our individual behaviour more than we previously realized.

Lucy believes that social creativity requires a shift from traditional advertising planning to behaviour planning. It means taking a far broader approach to inspiring behavior change, weaving in the latest thinking from behavioural economics and neuroscience and taking advantage of the explosion of data, alongside deploying the traditional planning sources of insight. It means re-uniting the different disciplines of planning, from advertising planning to digital and direct planning, along with channel planning to inspire social creativity.

In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media's Preeti Hoon on her India trip in August this year, Lucy Jameson talked about DDB and the path ahead. Here are a few extracts from the exciting discussion.

Q. What made you visit India? What's on the agenda?

We launched a new global positioning for DDB around the concept of ‘social creativity’, in May, in Vancouver to our top 250 senior management.

At that meeting, Madhukar Kamath asked me if I would come and share the thinking and the new planning toolkit and new springboards (which support the positioning), with all his teams across the Mudra Groups in India. India is obviously an important and fascinating growth market for us and our global clients, so of course I said yes! So, we ran two workshops (Delhi and Mumbai) to launch the new positioning internally and to share the new planning toolkit and the springboard approach within it.

DDB has always believed that ‘creativity is the most powerful force in business’. Today, people are more empowered and connected than ever before – they are the most important media - so creativity itself needs to change. Today, we use our creativity to produce ideas that people play with, participate in and pass on. Ideas that connect people with people, not just people with brands. We call this Social Creativity.

Great examples of social creativity are things like DDB Sweden’s VW Fun Theory (the interactive Swedish piano keyboard stairs) which was sought out by approximately 40 million people and won the Cannes Grand Prix this year. In it, we tested out whether fun could make people change their behaviour in favour of more green practices (recycling bottles, throwing away their litter and taking the stairs rather than the escalators) with a series of live social experiments....all of this made the point that VW were helping people to change towards green behaviour by making their green cars (cars with Bluemotion technology) more fun to drive. It achieved free media of approximately 3.5million euros from a production budget of approximately 60,000 euros. It’s a brilliant example of creating content that people wanted to participate in, play with and pass on.

Or the Philips Parallel lines case, for their new flat screen 21.9 TVs, with a series of 5 amazing films showcased on line and seeded through social media. Each film is based around the same dialogue but created a very different story, demonstrating the idea: ‘There are millions of ways to tell a story. There is only one way to watch one’.

This was then supplemented with a competition (to be judged by Ridley Scott) for film buffs to make the 6th film. (see Again this won a Grand Prix at Cannes this year.

Or the case for Brita water filters from DDB San Francisco. In it, we encouraged people in the US to use Brita water filters instead of bottled water, which is far more environmentally friendly as water bottles are rarely recycled and contribute a huge amount to landfill. At the heart of the campaign was a social media campaign where people could pledge to go bottled water free and in exchange would get a special, free recyclable ‘filterforgood’ bottle which they could use when they were out and about. This was accompanied by presence at Sundance film festival, media in gyms, partnerships with fitness programmes, retailers and ‘thelazyenvironmentalist’, alongside traditional media. It created a huge amount of ‘sharevalue’ and spread through people’s six degrees. It just shows that we can create campaigns with social creativity for low interest categories and brands, not just for big international prestige brands like VW, Philips or McDonalds.

Mudra has some great examples of social creativity as well. For example, their campaigns such as the Aircel boat which helped people out during the monsoons and created huge amounts of free media or TVS Scooty, which both empowered women and drove sales.

The new planning toolkit builds on the latest thinking from behavioural economics,neuroscience and network science in order to help us and our clients inspire 0people to change their behavior (rather than just their attitudes – which are what all too many traditional advertising agencies have focused on in a narrow way). It’s about finding new ways to get people involved with our brands rather than just hitting them over the head with traditional advertising. It’s about giving people content with ‘sharevalue’ and letting them share it with their 6 degrees (i.e. their social networks both on and offline), rather than surrounding them with intrusive, irritating 360 degree communications that just add to the clutter. We think that’s a far better and more effective way to change behavior and there’s increasing evidence from academia that we are right. There’s a huge opportunity for agencies to regain a sense of expertise and authority amongst clients, by demonstrating that we really do understand why people behave how they do. That’s why, in September, we are launching something called DDB Brain Lab. It’s an innovative partnership with the neuroscience and psychology department of Goldsmiths University (recently voted the coolest university in the UK) where we will be employing a ‘scientist in residence’ to help us understand people and their behavior better. We will be carrying out social experiments, working with clients and sharing our experiences with the DDB network and our clients.

Q. How has been the year 2010? Was it in anyway better than 2009?

In 2009, DDB actually had a pretty good year, despite the recession. Ad Age ranked the DDB Worldwide Communications group as number 1 in terms of revenue. Campaign magazine nominated us as the advertising network of the year. And over the last couple of decades (1990-2009), we have been the most awarded agency at Cannes (with 568 points against the 458 points of our nearest rival BBDO). The interesting thing is that these awards were won by a real breadth of different offices, not just the big offices like Chicago and London.

Overall though, the market has definitely been better than 2009 for the industry and for DDB.

Although confidence in Europe in particular is still unsteady, across many regions (particularly Asia), growth and confidence are picking up fast again. We’re also moving up the new business league table in Asia Pacific, now taking the number three slot.

Q. What lies ahead for DDB Mudra? What are the expansion and strategic plans in place?

Mudra has already made huge strides in shifting from being an advertising agency to a communications group. That will make a huge difference in implementing social creativity. There are lots of exciting plans in place, such as the Mumbai office move, bringing all the elements of Mudra under one roof.

I think there is a huge opportunity to continue to grow the business in the digital, direct and experiential areas – as the successes of Mudra Max show.

Around the world, DDB is growing its social media offering (under the product name Radar DDB) and we would expect to see this growing within the Tribal/Mudra group as well. There are huge opportunities for what we call ‘social intelligence’ (understanding what people are saying about your brands online and using this as a new source of insight) as well as social media campaigns and programmes.

With the explosion of digital, also comes an explosion of data (many current sources suggest the amount of data in the world is doubling approximately every two years), and with that comes the need for intelligence and interpretation of this data overload. I think that too will be an area of expansion for Mudra.

Q. What are the changing trends in the digital space globally? Where do you think India stands as compared to other nations?

If the last decade was the decade of the growth of search, social and the power of the consumer, then some of the key trends over the next few years are going to be the growth of mobile internet, the growth of real time, the growth of geo-utility driven by GPS (so we’ll start seeing far more location based services – things like foursquare or brands/retailers tailoring content/offers etc by location), the growth of behavioral targeting (being able to tailor content/ads/offers based on where people have been digitally, what they’ve done and bought and who their friends are and what they too have been doing....). There will inevitably be issues around privacy too.

India obviously has far lower broadband and smart phone penetration than the western markets, but we would expect to see it leapfrogging in some ways – e.g. with mobile internet becoming bigger than fixed internet (as has been the case in China).

Q. How are advertisers responding to the digital wave globally as compared to India? Are Indian advertisers now open to setting aside budgets for digital medium of communication?

From what I have heard, clients in India are starting to set aside budgets for digital,depending of course on whether they are targeting an affluent urban audience or a more mass audience. As yet, digital is not appropriate for the latter. However, we’d expect to see this growing as more clients see success in India and also as they see case studies from other markets.

We have also seen the trend that some clients are just saying they want a Facebook fan page or a microsite, without setting clear objectives. While it’s important that people experiment and experience the new media for themselves, there’s no point doing digital‘for the sake of it’. We need to get better at instilling discipline in our clients in terms of setting clear objectives and analytics around digital. For a more accountable medium, it’s remarkable how poorly it is evaluated on the whole.

Q. What does DDB as an agency think about mobile and internet marketing? Do you think it will flourish in a fragmented market like that of India?

As mentioned, we think mobile internet is going to be one of the biggest trends of the next decade, particularly as smart phones allow us to do more and more. We need to stop thinking of our mobiles as things to make calls and messages but as our access points to the internet – as a far cheaper, easier way for people to access this info and power than the pc. We think mobile internet will definitely flourish in a fragmented market like India. In fact,that fragmentation will probably play in its favour. It will allow clients to be much more targeted in their spends.

Q. What is your vision for DDB in next five years?

In the world around us, change is the only constant. We think this provides us with huge opportunities. We want to grab those opportunities and be the most influentialcommunications company in the world. We see that having a different approach - 'social creativity'– can help us achieve this.

Q. How do you measure DDB’s success? Is it the numbers on y-o-y basis or the number of awards you win every year?

We apply a 'balanced scorecard' approach when we are thinking about the success of DDB. We don’t just look at the numbers or creative awards. Instead, we believe in ‘people, product and profit’ in that order. If you get the right talent, then you can produce brilliant work and the money will follow. So, we like to measure our progress across all of these areas.

We measure ‘people’ by looking at things like retention/talent/training etc and through our internal surveys (Maister survey which is employed globally).

We look at ‘product’ by looking at both our strategic and creative awards. We have a brilliant reputation for effectiveness as well as creativity and this is born out by our success at the effies and the IPA Effectiveness awards (we have been effectiveness agency of the year no less than 3 times in a row and have far more awards than any of our rivals), as well as at creative awards shows like Cannes. This year for example we won two Grand Prix at Cannes and were the second most awarded network globally.

Finally, we look at profit.

Mudra is no exception to this approach - it's been brilliant, for example, at instilling training and development programmes, which are so important when we see the average tenure at agencies declining in fast expanding markets like China and India. It has to be about the people, the culture and the experiences they can gain from an agency, not just the cash.

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