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Advertising Interviews

Jonathan Cude

Partner & Chief Creative Officer, McKinney
Daniele Fiandaca,
Head of Innovation, Cheil Worldwide | 09 Aug 2013

Big Data doesn’t necessarily tell the truth, it can be manipulated. I am not saying that statistics and research are not valid. If the data is good and can be used in the correct way to give you insights, not answers, then I am fine with it. The lie of Big Data is that it gives you answers. It doesn’t. Big Data gives you insights, from which you need to derive insights. It doesn’t tell you as a marketer or an agency ‘go do that’, which is what people think. It also keeps people away from using their instincts and common sense at times.

Jonathan Cude joined McKinney in 2003 as Group Creative Director from Wieden+Kennedy. He was made Chief Creative Officer in 2008. As Partner and Chief Creative Officer, Cude’s team has won virtually every major award from Cannes Lions and One Show Pencils to IAB MIXX Awards (including the inaugural best of show) and 12 Effies.

Daniele Fiandaca is Head of Innovation at Cheil Worldwide. As is known, Cheil Worldwide acquired McKinney last year. Prior to joining Cheil, Fiandaca ran his own consultancy, Digital Fauna. In the course of his career, Fiandaca has dealt with a wide array of clients, including Apple, ASICS, COI, Converse, Johnson & Johnson, Lufthansa, MINI, Nike, Pepsico and Samsung. He started his career at Profero, where he helped grow the agency from a small London shop to a 300 person global agency with offices in over 10 countries.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Mehra, Cude and Fiandaca speak about why big data doesn’t work for them, simplifying communication and more...

Q. What is McKinney’s approach to innovation taking forward from the ‘McKinney 10 per cent’ philosophy?

Jonathan Cude: McKinney is all about people. ‘McKinney 10 per cent’, as it is known, is all about encouraging employees to set aside time to invent and build anything they want; McKinney has a very builder and innovative bend. A lot of agencies want to do things like this, but can’t do it because of the way they are set up. They can’t just get their employees to set aside 10 per cent of their time aside to innovate; just to use their time on how they want to do things differently. In fact, we have made it a mandate by including it in their time-sheets.

With the advent of digital, instead of spinning off an e-McKinney or i-McKinney, we inserted digital into the mainstream agency. This has kept us ahead of all other agencies.

Q. What is your approach to Big Data?

Jonathan Cude: Big Data doesn’t necessarily tell the truth, it can be manipulated. I am not saying that statistics and research are not valid. If the data is good and can be used in the correct way to give you insights, not answers, then I am fine with it.

Have you heard of the saying: ‘There are Lies, Big lies and Statistics’? The lie of Big Data is that it gives you answers. It doesn’t. Big Data gives you insights, from which you need to derive insights. It doesn’t tell you as a marketer or an agency ‘go do that’, which is what people think. It also keeps people away from using their instincts and common sense at times.

Daniele Fiandaca: I hate Big Data. As a term if you can ask people what Big Data is, they don’t have answers, and anything that confuses people is not a good thing. It was invented by consultants on the premise that there is so much data, you need the right tools to get the right insights. We’ve always had data, so what is new is that the volume has increased, that’s all. What is really interesting to me is real time data, and if Big Data can help me get that, I’d love it.

Q. How do integrate strength within the agency globally?

Daniele Fiandaca: You have to know each other at a senior level. What is great about Cheil is that we have regular meetings, we have a global planning workshop, where the best brains from around the world come and share stuff; so within the global team we know where there are pockets of skill sets. We also build centres of excellence such as the Digital Centre of Excellence that we have in the UK to help leverage our strengths and resources.

Q. Cheil Worldwide acquired McKinney last year. How has the acquisition helped McKinney?

Jonathan Cude: One of the reasons why we wanted to be with the Cheil organisation was the scale and ability, moreover it is still an independent agency which isn’t a WPP or an Omnicom. The spirit of the agency is something is something that we wanted to be part of and access the talent. One of things that we didn’t have the ability to do at McKinney prior to joining Cheil was global reach and scale. If a pitch came up, clients have said to us in the past ‘we love you guys, but you just don’t have the global reach and scale’. That is no longer an issue.

Q. What is your approach to simplifying communication in the complex media world today?

Jonathan Cude: When all else fails, just simplify, just go back to media. And what is media? It is an idea where people meet, this opens up everything; you are then not struggling to find platforms. It goes back to knowing your audience and how and where they live. People don’t meet on a billboard. Clients are important in making the decisions when it comes to experimenting with new media.

Q. Are clients experimenting enough with new media?

Jonathan Cude: Small clients go either risky or very conservative, because they have a small amount of money. It may feel risky at the moment because you have to go all in with small resources; you can’t slice small resources. Big clients can slice up their budgets, but clients that try new things are the ones that succeed; the biggest risk of all is not taking a risk, it is being invisible. Good advertising is all about what people care about.

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